And really, with people like the aforementioned Ms. Sharapova saying things like "The atmosphere was very much Russian" about a match played in Moscow of all places (that's the capital of Russia, for our geographically challenged readers) you would be forgiven for those doubts.
But, to quote notable sportswoman Dame Julina Benere entirely out of context, "There is more to fishing than catching fish". Or, for the Romans among us, "Piscator non solum piscatur". (Seriously though, who even speaks Latin these days? Other than my sister. She would in no way be out of her depth if, say, Caesar approached her on the street with the question "Salve, Brute! Crepidas meas per clavos ad solum adfixinte?" [that is, Hey Brutus! Did you nail my sandals to the floor?]. To which she could reply cryptically "Peruniunt montes, et mus ridiculus nascitur", which of course means "Mountains are in labour, and a ridiculous mouse is born". Or alternatively "Brevior saltare cum deformibus viris est vita", roughly translated as "Life is too short to dance with ugly men").'
Anyway, that fifteenth-century sportswoman Dame Julina was spot on. Julina, I am no fisherwoman but I know a good quote when I see one (and I also know how to use my "Postmodern writer's creative licence" to get away with misinterpreting it and applying it to an otherwise unrelated point). There is more to some of your favourite sportswomen than meets the eye. In fact, sometimes it is what meets the ear that sets them apart – when statements of surprising depth and clarity fall from their lips. And sometimes they should really just stick to their day job.
So, your 30-second cheat sheet this week revolves around sportswomen who are just as notable for what they say as for the sport they play (or how good they look doing it. I swear Venus Williams' outfits get almost as much airtime as her serve). Read on, friends, and prepare to be enlightened…
Things of Unexpected Depth Said By Women in Sport:
"The difference between a good athlete and a top athlete is the top athlete will do the mundane things when nobody's looking." - Susan True
"What I've learned in my years as a competitive wheelchair athlete is this--what separates a winner from the rest of the pack is not raw talent or physical ability; instead, it is the drive and dedication to work hard every single day, and the heart to go after your dream, no matter how unattainable others think it is." - Linda Mastandrea
"The thing I do best is laugh." - Well, Cathy Freeman, some might find that debatable. But we love the sentiment
"You got to try and reach for the stars or try and achieve the unreachable." - Another winner from Cathy Freeman
"Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream. Our Dad used to say that. It's an adage.'' - Serena Williams used to say that. It's a quote.
"In my mind, I'm always the best. If I walk out on the court (and) I think the next person is better, I've already lost." - Venus Williams
"I'm just me - the way I am" - A lesson in self acceptance, from Australian paralympic wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage
"In every sport there comes a moment when a spell of bitter weeping seems like a fair recess from whatever tough work is going on. It's only the steeliest among us who can fight the urge to turn negative--who instead will make contact and redouble her efforts. Call it grace under pressure. Call it grit....call it excellence." - Susan Casey (Ok so she's not really a sportswoman. But she edits Sports Illustrated for women)
So, in conclusion, the women of sport can be meaningful! And then other times, not so much:
"I am number one in the world, so I have the right to be arrogant!" - We'll take your word for it, Martina Hingis
"You won, but I'm prettier and more marketable than you." - Ouch. Anna Kournikova reportedly took it upon herself to put Martina Hingis in her place, after the older Hingis embarrassed her 6-0, 6-0 in the junior U.S. Open. You can't have it all – apparently manners did not come as part of that pretty marketable package!
Well that's it for this week. Tune in next Tuesday for more exclusive revelations on the inside world of women's sport… And who would have thought it would be quite so revelatory!