Emma Raducanu emerged on the tennis scene in dramatic fashion. She had only made her WTA Tour debut in June but beat two top-50 players on her way to the last 16 at Wimbledon. Partway through her match she started to ‘breathe heavily and felt dizzy’ and had to retire from the game. She later said, ‘It’s a great learning experience for me and a great step forward, and hopefully next time, I will be better prepared.’
Many of us have grasped the increasing freedoms of recent weeks as lockdown has been gradually eased. Before long, we anticipate the complete lifting of all restrictions and, for some, it will feel like a natural step forward. However, there will be many who will struggle with the adjustment. It may feel like being thrust onto centre court before we are ready. We might discover that the last 16 months have shaped our thoughts and feelings far more than we realise. Confidence has been eroded, insecurities beneath the surface have been exposed – and now we are expected to perform. How should we respond to this state of affairs?
Being honest with ourselves is the important first step. If that is how we feel, acknowledge it. Then we have to ask, are we going to be defined by the negatives of these past months – or the positives? In the midst of the difficulties, we all learnt something; we were all reminded of what matters in life and what to value. Let us focus on those things and take them forward into our new-found freedoms. As we went into lockdown, I wrote an article encouraging us to ‘cut some slack’ for ourselves and others. We would all feel the pressure. Let us do the same as we emerge. Be patient with yourself as you adjust. Be understanding of those who will be anxious and fearful. Above all, let us be thankful for the gift of life itself and live accordingly.