How would you define ‘old.’ If you consult a dictionary, it rather unhelpfully says, ‘no longer young’. One of my granddaughters has just had her 10th birthday. Does that make her old? Only insofar as she’s not as young as she once was. Am I old at 70? Are you old at whatever age you are?
Much has been made in recent days of how ‘old’ top tennis players are. Roger Federer will soon be 38 or, as one commentator put it, “nearly 40.” Ken Rosewall was in his last Wimbledon final at the age of 39 – and it was unusual several decades ago to have such ‘old’ people doing well at Wimbledon. Now it’s commonplace. Most of the quarter-finalists this year were in their thirties. There is incredulity that men so old can still run around the tennis court as if they were in their early twenties. But it was the youngsters in their twenties who couldn’t keep up with the oldies and bowed out in earlier rounds.
What is the secret of longevity on the tennis circuit? Technology – better and bigger rackets with a larger sweet spot; diet – how many tennis players did you see eating bananas on court in the sixties? A back-up team: each top player might have a physio, coach, dietician, fitness expert, psychologist, manager, and agent. And the very top oldies: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, have played each other for more than a decade and so each has had to work extremely hard at keeping skills and fitness at a very high level.
While we may never be top tennis players, we can still make the most of our own skills and gifts. But make time, too, to sit and enjoy watching the ‘oldies’ run around getting exhausted.