For the last two days, social media has been filled with photos and videos from Roger Federer’s farewell match. And as has been written or said a million times already by people, tennis fans or not, there hasn’t been a more heart-warming picture in the recent past. At the cost of being told “We know this already, you didn’t have to write this”, I am just going to write this down only to share the joy it brought me.
I’m not one who follows any sport too closely to be an “expert viewer”, but one who has basic understanding that helps me enjoy the matches that I do watch once in a while, be it in any sport. But even for a person like me, Federer is special, because he is Federer. And any person who finds Federer special has to find Nadal special too – it is an unsaid norm; and I am no different. To see these two stalwarts – rivals on court every time they met for a face-off, close friends off the court – playing alongside as partners was probably enough for the entire world to have a meltdown. But the post-match moments were the kind that could make even the most hardhearted ones tear up.
The absolute lack of inhibition with which these two cried their hearts out after the match, in front of millions who watched from across the world, was testament to two important life lessons.
1) Being rivals does not and should not mean being enemies.
In a world where winning is increasingly being looked at as the end result of pushing someone else down, hating them personally and making personal attacks only for some mileage, these two winners prove to the world that love, friendship and camaraderie come way above victory and rivalry any day. While we have witnessed this bond time and again in their matches, interviews and online meet-ups, nothing would compare to the sincerity in Nadal’s tears after this final match, the conviction with which he talked about how an important part of his life is leaving too with Federer leaving the final tour of his career. The kind of friendship, trust and respect these two men share is something not just every sportsperson should aspire for, but every human being, especially the cheap lot of politicians all over the world.
2) Men do cry!
In the bigger scheme of things, this is probably the most important lesson that came out of the post-match moments. Two decades into the 21st century, when age-old toxic lessons of how “Boys don’t cry!”, “Crying is for sissies!”, “You are strong only if you are unemotional!” still do the rounds, two of the most successful, most followed, most respected men of all times came together to shatter these myths, break stereotypes and demonstrate to the world that you are a person worthy of being successful and respected only if you are first a human being who can love and feel. They showed to the world that there is nothing shameful in feeling sad, breaking down and letting those tears out for the world to see; because their tears showed how much they cared – for their passion, for everyone that mattered to them, for each other, for their fans, for the love they have received over the years and will continue to receive for a lifetime.
If this is not proof that boys and girls can cry, boys and girls do cry, boys and girls should cry when they really want to, I don’t know what is. Do we need a bigger example to show that men who cry aren’t weak, that women needn’t suppress their tears to portray themselves as strong? If these two heroes can, it means we all can. So, chuck that shame out the window, and cry it out! If you need a push, play the Federer-Nadal post-match video once again.
Also published on Medium.