The 37th. Time is the Charm

The name Peng Shuai is not a household name in the USA, but she is the third-ranked Chinese professional female tennis player behind the more familiar Li Na and  Zhang Shuai.  More familiar to tennis addicts, that is.

This afternoon in New York City at the US Open, Peng played her 37th. match in Grand Slam events since turning pro in 2001 at the age of fifteen – and reached her first semi-final ever. Think about that.  Thirty-six entries and thirty-six times falling short of a goal over thirteen years.  Finally, on try number thirty-seven, she makes it to the semi-finals of one of the most prestigious tournaments on the Women’s Tennis Association tour.

Her interview following the match with Tennis Channel commentator Tom Rinaldi was not nearly so entertaining as the ones with the number one Chinese player Li Na, but then she hasn’t had the same practice.  The most she could do was smile and wipe her face with a towel while she tried not to cry.  “Very excited,” she managed to say in English, when asked to describe her emotions.

Very excited, indeed.  Peng is the daughter of a policeman and homemaker and the niece of an uncle who encouraged her to start playing tennis at the age of eight and she has played off and on for twenty years since.  When she was thirteen years old, she had heart surgery, and she has struggled with several health issues throughout her tennis career.

“I love tennis, I love to play tennis,” she said in her post-game interview.

I was happy for her because I love a good story about individuals who overcome adversity and realize their dreams after years of hard work.  Years of hitting a little yellow ball across a net.   Hours, days, weeks, months, years…and in those years believing within herself that she could win the big matches that place her name among the elite in her sport.  She has spunk.  I love spunk.

In February of 2014, Peng Shuai reached a career high-ranking of number one in the world in doubles.  She is the first Chinese professional tennis player, male or female, to reach that standing.  Beyond impressive. Rankings are rankings in every sport and are often overrated, but Peng has had a tortuous climb from number 357 in the world in 2002 to number 39 in singles in 2014.

She will face the winner of the Caroline Wozniacki/ Sara Errani match which will be played tonight under the lights in the Arthur Ashe arena.  They each have their own stories and are, I’m sure, equally excited and deserving of the opportunity to meet Peng in the semi-finals.  Exciting matches in store for the readers of Sports Illustrated.  I can’t wait…

Peng Shuai may not make it to the finals of the Us Open this year, but I’d bet good money she’ll keep trying until she does.





About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The 37th. Time is the Charm

  1. Do you play tennis? My MIL loved tennis and used to hang out at the boys tennis championship in Kalamazoo every second of the tournament.


    • Hi Luanne,
      Once upon a time long ago and far away I did play tennis, but many moons have now passed since I played. I have, however, been a total TV Tennis Addict for as long as CBS has been broadcasting and they started in 1968.
      I love to think about a boys tennis championship in Kalamazoo!! 🙂 In fact, I love to think about the Family Kalamazoo in general!


  2. Pingback: The 37th. Time is the Charm | I'll Call It Like I See It

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