Responding to criticism of being unemotional and boring, Pete Sampras was
once quoted as saying: “People have this perception of when I win majors that I don’t look very ecstatic.”
“By the same token, if you just look at what I have to give up and sacrifice in my daily life to compete at this level, it would be very weird if in my own way I wasn’t feeling ecstatic about winning.”
While not doubting for a second that ecstatic is how Pete feels when he wins a major, I do question what he has given up in order to become the best, possibly of all time, has been a sacrifice.
As with any athlete’s career, the amount of time and effort a professional devotes to his sport is a matter of choice. Those choices are determined by the value the athlete attaches to being successful, to reaching the standards he has set for himself.
For instance, in the case of Sampras, it’s been well documented that even as a young boy he held the dream of becoming a top tennis player. This, of course, is not unusual — most sports begin with such dreams.
As a youngster, between the time switching from a two-handed...