To say Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, whom some are calling the greatest player of all time, accepted the most heart-crushing defeat of his life with grace would be the understatement of the sports universe.
After winning 27 straight matches, a rare feat indeed, he lost in shocking manner at the 2021 US Open.
Arguably the most disappointing moment in his life and after a waterfall of tears and emotion, Djokovic took the microphone and addressed the stunned audience who had gathered to see history made for the first time since 1969:
"So many different emotions," he said. "Part of me is very sad. It's a tough one to swallow, this loss, considering everything that was on the line.
"But on the other hand I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York. The crowd made me very special. They pleasantly surprised me…you have to be very satisfied with the year. Three wins, three slams and a final. I have to be proud of everything I've achieved.
"In tennis we learn very quickly how to turn the next page. Very soon there are more challenges, more things coming up. I've learned to overcome these kind of tough losses in the finals of Slams, the ones that hurt the most.
"I'll try to draw some lessons from them, learn, be stronger, and keep going. As long as there is motivation and that flair, I'll keep riding.”
He even gave a wonderful nod to the new generation of players: “Tennis is in very capable hands.”
For those of us who’ve never had the entire world looking on and expecting one thing and getting something less, we may not know exactly how he feels.
But we all cope with disappointment and we could learn from a guy who learned that that’s the way the ball bounces.
PORTAL TO HEAVEN: Whether it’s a defeat in sports, career, relationships or whatever, God is like the coach who puts his arms us and is proud of the “person” rather than just the “player.”
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly…Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep… And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 26:75 NIV, John 21:17 NIVMatthew 3:17 NIV