One is an international superstar. Arguably, the greatest tennis player dead or alive and definitely a legend that will be talked about for many years to come. The other is a rising star in Nigeria, one who’s blessed with an abundance of gifts every creative person craves. While these two young women are at different phases in their career, with Serena gradually inching towards the twilight of her illustrious tennis career and Bisola just starting to attract that level of recognition that anyone who has followed her career knows she more than deserves, one phenomenon binds them together–the long, tortuous road to elusive victories.
In the last couple of days, all the talk has centered around Serena Williams’ US Open final defeat in the hands of little-known Japanese youngster, Naomi Osaka. Apart from the confrontations and controversies that marred the occasion, Serena’s loss was further magnified by the fact the tournament was the 50th Anniversary of the US Open. A day that would have become indelible in the hearts and minds Serena fans all over the world. But it was not to be.
This latest defeat came on the back of the one to German, Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon barely two months ago. It has to be frustrating for Williams to have come so close on two occasions considering that she last won a major tournament at the Australian Open Final in January 2017 and has been fighting to get that all-important title that will see her equal Margaret Court’s record. The anguish of having to wait till a least January 2019 to launch another uncertain bid for a major can best be imagined.
On the other hand, Before her AMVCA Trail Blazer Award, Bisola had a similar story. Twice she came close to taking up a notable prize on the big stage, and twice she came up short. First, at the maiden edition of MTN sponsored Project fame where she was fourth runner-up, narrowly losing out of the top four spots which had gifts attached to them. And more recently, at the 2017 Big Brother Naija Reality show where she placed second.
Anyone’s who has followed the trajectory of Bisola’s journey and steady rise to prominence would admit she’s supremely talented. It’s actually a wonder how it has taken this long for her to be appreciated on the big stage. I was one of those who believed she should have won the Big Brother Naija See Gobe Edition. She was by miles the most entertaining and interesting housemate, but it wasn’t to be. I had also rooted for her during her Project Fame days even though I soon suspected she was unlikely to win.
In any case, all that is water under the bridge now for the actor and singer who finally got the recognition she has long deserved and with a car to boot while the whole of Africa watched. It’s a justifying “end” to what had been a tale of always playing second fiddle to people who are perhaps, less talented than her. After a short string of “what-might-have-beens”, the stars finally aligned for Bisola and staunch fans of hers who have been smarting from the pain of seeing her play in leagues her talent was way higher than must have shed a tear watching her almost go berserk as she received the exclusive award.
After Serena’s loss to Naomi Osaka on Saturday, I imagined the utter disappointment she must have felt yet again. Coming so close and coming up short yet again. Beyond making history, I am certain she wants to win a trophy for her daughter and her husband. It’s easy to imagine it would be a dream of hers— it would be her first Grand Slam after birthing a baby and getting married— two defining moments in any woman’s life.
Nevertheless, for someone who’s been in the game for so long and has seen many triumphs and defeats, I am positive Serena will bounce back. She’d hate to bow out on the back of such a monumental loss; and like I shared in a Facebook post after the US Open Women’s final, Serena will get that 24th Grand Slam even if she has to retire right after the tournament. It’s easy to predict, champions don’t give up. I was convinced of the same when Lionel Messi announced he was retiring from international football with the Argentine national team after their Copa America Final defeat. Today, the Barcelona star has not only played several matches, he captained his national team to the last World Cup Finals.
Nobody likes to lose, much less those who are used to winning. However, losing keeps us humble, it reminds that we are human, prone to failure and will not have things our way all the time. Failure also makes us appreciate success more than we would have if we just went on a spell of victories. I bet Serena Williams would value that seemingly elusive 24th trophy more than all the ones she has won when she eventually gets her hand on it.
For the rest of us, it’s a lesson to keep going regardless of how many times we have failed. We can find inspiration from the lives of the two remarkable women in this piece.
In the end, elusive victories are mirages, they aren’t real but help us develop a heightened thirst for the success will come if we faint not.