First, Win, Then Believe?

It’s very rare to read an important article in the sports section, any sports section. But this article by Tom Perrotta of the Wall Street Journal makes an interesting point about the recent stunning victory of Italian Flavia Pennatta in the US Open Tennis Tournament in New York.  We’re all taught that you have to believe in yourself before you can win, in sports or any other field. But Pennatta never believed she could win the US Open, or any other major tennis tournament for that matter. She was happy being a very good, not great, tennis player.

In fact, both the players in the womens’ final were surprised by their victories.  Roberta Vinci, and everyone else, thought she would lose in the semi-finals to superstar Serena Williams.  Asked at what point in that match she believed she could win, she said “never.” But, in fact, she did win.  And then she faced Pennatta in the finals, who never thought she could win a major world tournament.  Pennatta and Vince, the two finalists, were both surprised by their success, and both delighted to end up where they did. Both women are Italian, and they are good friends. 

So it would seem that, sometimes, belief in yourself comes after the victory, not before. 

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