6 July 2024

Wimbledon: Strawberries, cream and perseverance

Claire Anderson

A photo shows a tennis ball next to a net.

As Wimbledon begins, Claire Anderson reflects on finding strength in the face of adversity.

If you’ve survived the summer’s football mania so far – well done! We have now safely arrived at the strawberries, cream and tennis season and I, for one, shall not be moving from the grassy courts of Wimbledon for the next two weeks!

This year is expected to herald the grand farewell of British hero Andy Murray. If you’ve charted the highs and lows of Andy’s tennis career, you’ll know that the anguish and hope of the British Isles have rested firmly on the big fella’s shoulders since he made his professional debut in 2005.

We’ve watched as Andy has battled, won, been injured, recovered and done it all again. Striving throughout, he marked his performances with heart, determination and spirit, even as the pundits and press piled on the pressure so often reserved for when our nations’ football teams ‘disappoint’.

After Murray lost his first four Grand Slam finals, his critics were keen to remind their audiences of how many ‘years of hurt’ were continuing, as though it was Murray’s responsibility to return our Isles to their ‘former glory’.

However hard Murray must’ve found the criticism in the face of his hard work despite the pain, injury and mental toll that elite athleticism brings, he was able to dig deeper.

His first coach – his mum, Judy – said of him: ‘The … thing that spurred him on was when anybody suggested he couldn’t do anything… Every time he’s faced adversity, he’s come back stronger.’ Perseverance and refusing to bend to the critics meant Andy went on to pick up three Grand Slam singles titles and two Olympic gold medals, among other accolades.

So often in our lives, our actions and decisions are moulded by critical words born from our own expectations or those of others. Doubt and negativity ease their way into our minds, where they niggle at us and distract us from who we are and what we believe and from reaching our full potential.

Romans 12:1 and 2 set the record straight – we are living, holy sacrifices to God who bring him pleasure. We are told, in no uncertain terms: ‘Do not allow this world to mould you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind’ (The Voice).

Your critics – inner or outer – will try to mould you, to make you feel or act less than all you can be, and all that God sees in you. Don’t let them. Keep persevering. Keep digging deeper into God, into his promises and into the knowledge that doing so will set you on the right path for what God ‘wills and … finds good, pleasing, and complete’ (Romans 12:2 VOICE).

You might not be a Grand Slam hopeful or need to conquer injury and the British media, but, in whatever battlefield of life you find yourself, how could you change the world by refusing to be moulded by it?

Reflect and respond

  • Consider how your inner and outer critics try to mould you.
  • What could you do to block these shots?
  • Rowan Williams, paraphrasing Catherine of Siena, has said: ‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’ What could this mean to you in your context?

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Photo of Claire Anderson.

Claire Anderson


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