Monday, June 15, 2009

If he has fear, he has weakness

Earlier this year, tennis great Roger Federer married his longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec shortly after it had been announced that she was pregnant with his child. I called it a scandal, and my unsolicited opinion was misconstrued as a moral objection. Okay, so maybe my use of the word "scandal" left little room for interpretation. It's true that I don't always acquit myself well verbally in real-time, so I'll take a moment to clear the air here via this blog.

You see, long before her pregnancy, I had already begun to wonder why they weren't married. Mirka had been in Federer's box at every tournament for the past six years at least--as long as I'd been following his career. Their relationship seemed as solid as it got in that world. (Once upon a time, there was a woman named Kim Clijsters, a man named Lleyton Hewitt. They were young. They were in love. They were fools.) Mind you, I was merely curious, and I considered that maybe, as a couple, they just didn't place a lot of importance on the institution of marriage. That would have been fine with me, but I couldn't help suspecting that there may have been a flimsier reason for why Federer was unable to take the next step.

I of course thought of Pete Sampras, whose play declined after he married Sonya Blade, and, at the time, many blamed his slipping performance on the distraction of a love life, even though the reality of his age should have told where he was in his career. Was Federer wary of the same fate and unwilling to place his relationship with Mirka before his professional legacy in the making? I obviously can't know for certain, and his private life shouldn't be any of my business, but I think it's questionable that, after such an extended courtship, their union should be formalized only after he's knocked her up. If my suspicions are correct, then it strikes me as flaky behavior, and I suppose I'm disappointed because, although he may well be the greatest ever, if there is any doubt about his pysche outside the game, it's hard not to point to that whenever he struggles on the court.

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