By Ann Liguori
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NEW YORK (WFAN) — If you’re a parent looking for role models for your daughters, and the reality stars that dominate television and social media aren’t exactly what you have in mind, look no further than the women playing their hearts out on center stage at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center.
Your daughters and sons will learn about important aspects of life and success, like pursuing your passion, fighting against all odds, work ethic, never giving up, and dealing with all kinds of adversity.
Venus Williams has been a role model for years. Playing in her 19th US Open, the 37-year-old continues to impress on and off the court.
Down a break in the third, Venus fought back. She smacked dazzling winners and made less unforced errors than Kvitova down the stretch.
What a career! And what longevity! Her very first Grand Slam final at the US Open happened back in 1997! And all these years later Venus continues to be a winner and a leader.
She reached the finals at both the Australian Open and at Wimbledon this year. Yes, her seven Grand Slam singles titles, gold medals, and countless doubles titles with sister Serena are simply over the top in the success category.
But more impressive to me is how she has been able to deal with various challenges in her life such as Sjogrens Syndrome, which she was diagnosed with in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes joint pain and fatigue. She has met that health challenge head-on and has learned to deal with it while continuing her intense playing schedule, training, business, and travel schedules. She changed her diet, became a vegan to decrease inflammation, and altered her fitness routine.
In addition to her on-court success, Venus runs a variety of businesses, including owning an interior design company, V Starr Interiors, and a clothing line called EleVen. She also designs her own tennis outfits.
Venus has always displayed a calm and cool demeanor in the face of adversity, both professionally and personally. And she is very gracious in giving credit to others, particularly her sister Serena and her opponents.
And while we’re on the subject of overcoming challenges, two-time Wimbledon champ Kvitova is no slouch, either. She is an amazing example of how to deal with adversity with will, grit, courage, and determination.
Tennis fans are familiar with her story. Last December, an intruder attacked and robbed her in her own apartment in the Czech Republic. She suffered lacerations to the tendons and nerves on her left hand while trying to defend herself. Coming back from those injuries and the trauma of that experience would be difficult for anyone. But to come back to championship playing form as quickly as she has, after being sidelined for six months, is quite unbelievable. And by the looks of the way she played Tuesday night against Venus, she’ll be contending for more major titles in the future.
Sloane Stephens, who advanced to her first US Open semifinal with a three-set win over Anastasija Sevastova earlier Tuesday, was out for 11 months while dealing with a foot injury which later required surgery. She has come back with a vengeance and more of an appreciation for the game.
Every athlete, every person has a story. We’ve all had to overcome obstacles and challenges. Winning doesn’t come easy. There’s always a price to pay — tons of sacrifice, hard work, and dedication.
And the women we’re seeing emerge in the later rounds of the US Open all have special stories to tell. Pay attention. Learn. Be inspired. We all can take something from these athletes, young and old. And what great messages they deliver, one forehand winner at a time.
Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori