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Monday, September 05, 2022


by Jen Schneider

I’ve always believed in the power (mostly potential) of greatness. Up and down streets of small-town USA. It’s the American way. From the East to the West. Up and down coasts. Across the boulevard. Behind boarded storefronts. Above tent cities and soaring skyscrapers. Gold rushes (and crushes) as believable as spinning compass dials. Proof in palms. Sweat both a track and a sweet tactic. Electricity both pushes and pulls. Magnetic magnanimity. All senses engaged. Eyes sparkle. All moves traced. Energy (& greatness) on display. 

Tonight, I witnessed it. The G.O.A.T. First-hand. On live TV (with an intermittent signal). From the irregularly regular comfort of a green corduroy couch. All limbs locked. All cushions plucked. Some patched. Others poked. Even the puppy ceased chewing (both cushions and bones) to watch (perhaps chase). Greatness a moving target. And a mobilizer. Time may tick (and trick) but greatness warms then lingers. In layers (six U.S. Open titles and tiers) and longing. Of myths and mothers. Of champions and messages that extend championship miles. Of catsuits and ankle-grazing boots. In smiles and original styles. Hi-tops and lo-cuts. Sequins and Lycra trims. Authentic and relentless. Shine and sheer. All dress coded. All rackets loaded. 

All the world’s a stage. Bounded of boundaries erased in thin air. Fans in stands. Teams behind the scenes. Youngsters with big dreams. Bottoms boosted by stacks of paper reams. Elders with small screens and oversized spectacles. Spectators (both in and of person) cup (and capture) promise in the palms of their hands and the sweetness of their gasps. Puffs of breath signal. Proof of behavior beyond all reasonable dreams. From hard courts to grass lots. From clay corners to concrete towers. From humble beginnings of seeds and sprouts. We’re only as strong as our supports. Even the always ready-for-sleep canine got caught up in the game. Foundations fuel fire. Balls of soft yellow fuzz inspire both chases and champions. Also companions. 

As the biggest names in sports flooded the airwaves, my husband pulled his racket from the attic. I considered my own tutu (long boxed). Grabbed Nikes, shorts, and night-lit keys. I laced, then tied my rubber-soled sneakers. His were a tad too tight (along with the shorts). Mine a tad too bright (neon green no longer felt right). Sparkle and lace always a fan. It was late but we made it a date. Leash on the dogs. Feet on pavement. Rackets in hand. We’ve never been dressed of accolades. Kool-Aids our beverage of choice. Tonight, we ran then hit then hollered. Rates (accuracy and time) no longer mattered. 

Greatness is gentle. A guide with nothing to hide. We were happy to be (beside and then on the court). There was no need to ace. No need to race. Greatness not only inspires it never tires. Age just as much as adage as a fuel for new stages. 

It’ll be a while, I think. To challenge the greatness, we saw on display. No desire to conform. Spectacular in a self-chosen uniform. Stats may stock and stack. Always at the ready. Some to be stored and others to react. Commentators eager to even all scores. Time is tricky. It passes in a blink. It’s the (even when fleeting and even when tried) American way. Tonight, I witnessed greatness. Under open air. Dances, daring, and destiny on magnificent display. 

Thank you, Serena. Your impact (and all you’ve made seen) will extend long and far beyond your effect. What I’ll remember most from my watch (and your reign) is your smile and your irrepressible passion for always, without fail, going the extra mile. Not to mention your incredible sense of fashion. You may not know our names, but your game inspires dreams beyond the threats of time and traditional means. Of G.O.A.T.s and accolades. Time and again—Greatness on display. 

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of RecollectionsInvisible InkOn Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.