I have just finished watching the 2015 U.S. Open Women’s Championship match and I am hunting around the apartment for tissues because I am just a little bit weepy. Weepy for the oldest first-time grand-slam winner. Weepy because she won when she was not supposed to, and weepy because she announced her retirement on court right just after accepting the tournament prize. But most of all weepy because this was a real-life Cinderella story.
How refreshing is that? Especially—or rather most of all—because these two weeks were supposed to be all about Serena Williams. And if it wasn’t going to be Serena, it certainly wasn’t supposed to be Flavia Pannetta and Roberta Vinci. Who?
Exactly. That’s the Cinderella story. Two players, with just about zero chance of getting to the finals of the U.S. Open get to the final of the U.S. Open. A dream come true.
This was Flavia Pannetta’s 49th grand slam. She had never made it to a final in all those 49 tries. Her previous best result was the semifinalsin the U.S. Open in 2013. She is 33 years and six months old. She was the #23 seed. No one even picked her to go to the final, much less carry away the trophy.
As for Roberta Vinci, one year younger and very close friend to Flavia. Roberta wasn’t even ranked! And she got to the semifinals to play against Serena Williams. A match that had her at 300 to one odds of winning. She had never won a set against Serena in the prior four times they had played. But then. Suddenly she wins a set. Then she holds her nerve. And then it’s two sets and she’s now in the final. An improbable all-Italian final for which the Italian prime minister even had to fly over to watch.
So there it was. The 2015 U.S. womens final—one for the old ones. But it’s not just about the old ones. It’s actually more about the underdogs. These were underdogs like you couldn’t even imagine. And the fact that they went out and won is enough to make me weepy. Weepy with happiness for them, and weepy with excitement for the possibilities of all the other underdogs in the world.
Let’s not discus the odds or the luck or whatever other reason you want to attribute for their improbably success. This is solely about their heart and guts and ability to seize the chance when they had it presented to them. And it’s about our ability to embrace them as they allow us to see the possibilities in ourselves.
It’s hard to imagine a better U.S. Open final (especially when we will see the number one and number two male players fight it out tomorrow for the Men’s title). But today, it is all about the old Italian women and the tenacity of the underdog. Let us all weep with joy!