How Marcus Willis achieved greatness at Wimbledon
“In pursuit of greatness.” No four words could better sum up that of Wimbledon. As we approach the final weekend of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament, we look back at what we have witnessed over the past two weeks. Whilst the final champions have yet to step onto centre court to pursue their greatness, we have already witnessed stories of greatness amongst the green grass of Wimbledon.
In 2012, Nike launched their “Find your greatness” campaign in the midst of the Summer Olympics being held in London. Amongst a marketing strategy featuring ordinary people doing the extraordinary, Nike proclaimed to us that “greatness is not some rare DNA strand. It’s not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We are all capable of it, all of us.”
(Image Credit: Nike)
What better example could we have of that this year, than in England’s very own Marcus Willis. Two weeks ago, a Google search for “Wimbledon hero” would have resulted in images and articles of Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova, Novak Djokovic. Two weeks later, the search results are loaded with images and articles on Marcus Willis. It’s a testimony to Wimbledon’s theme for this year, “In pursuit of greatness”, because everyone who steps onto the court has a chance at just that. Greatness on the grass courts is not defined by hoisting the final trophy over your head.
The events on the first day of Wimbledon summed up what it means to redefine greatness. At number 772 in the world, Marcus was the lowest ranked player attending the tournament. But against all odds, he stunned tennis supporters by beating world number 54 Ričardas Berankis in straight sets in the first round. The fairytale story had begun. With his first win, WillIs bagged himself a guaranteed £50,000 and a second round match… with the best tennis player to ever step on the court, Roger Federer.
Now, if the laws of greatness were that it was saved for those with the rare DNA strand and not for the ordinary man, then Marcus didn’t stand a chance. Federer would surely teach him a lesson, don’t mess with the gods. However, the people of Britain did not see it that way. They saw that pursuit of greatness being carried out by a man they could relate to and soon Marcus WillIs’ story was not just of one man, but of one nation. It was the story of the underdog - and in a year that has seen Leicester win the Premier League, Wales reach the semi finals of the Euros and Sam Querry knock out Novak Djokovic - the British people saw greatness in their underdog, Marcus Willis. His pursuit became their pursuit.
Although Federer was sure to win the war, Marcus took to centre court to win as many of the battles as he could. It was this pursuit of greatness which saw him step onto that stage to a roar from the packed crowd, his grin from ear to ear and contagious to all watching. It was this pursuit of greatness which had us cheering for every single point that he won. It was this pursuit of greatness which saw the worlds best player in Federer, take a seat to allow for Marcus to accept a standing ovation from his supporters when the fairytale ended. Greatness can be achieved by all of us, no matter who we are.
(Image Credit: AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
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