I have always been an underdog: from the time I won the 100 metres race in school despite being one of the smallest girls to being the first person to be placed in college, multiple backlogs notwithstanding, my limited “success” has always taken people by surprise. My numerous failures, on the other hand, have been in line with the low expectations that most people have from me. So yes, I am never in the limelight, never the favourite and definitely, never the one burdened with ‘potential’, and I prefer it that way.
So my tryst with anonymity has made me a sucker for other underdogs, and almost instinctively, I find myself standing up for the black sheep: be it the lost new hire awkwardly sitting in one corner at an office party, or a wild card playing her first match in a Grand Slam against a top-ranked player.
Which brings me to the third round match between the four-time Wimbledon champion Serena and her Chinese opponent, Jie Zheng. While not exactly a newbie in the WTA circuit, Zheng had lost all her previous encounters with Williams, and the petite underdog was not a serious challenge to her powerful opponent. Or so we thought. The spirited pint-sized girl put up a tenacious fight, making Williams slog for every point, running down everything that the American could throw at her and even taking the first set in a tie-breaker. The match went right down to the wire, as Williams finally won the decider 9-7, but for me, Zheng was still the winner.
Obviously, as I made myself comfortable in front of the TV last night for the Euro Final, there was little doubt that I was going to root for Italy against Spain, the clear favourites. It has absolutely nothing to do with my recent visit to the country or my fascination with the volatile yet supremely talented Mario Balotelli (ok, may be the second reason does impact my loyalty to SOME extent). But unlike the Williams-Zheng match, this time there was no contest as Italy suffered a humiliating defeat, though my only consolation was that Italy would go home, head held high, for giving their fans something to cheer about.
With underdogs, it’s never about winning, but it’s about pride…