Alex Noel refers to the words of the Bible to explain what it takes to win Wimbledon and encourages us to incorporate these practices into our own lives.
Wimbledon is more than just a tennis tournament. It’s come to epitomise this time of year - especially in the UK. It’s an iconic part of the British Summer. Strawberries and cream - sunshine (and rain). That particular quiet of rapt attention followed by an explosion of applause. The sound of tennis balls being thwacked down the court, and of line judges yelling.
There’s a noticeable buzz in the air. Walking past the courts where I first learnt to play, I notice that they’re busier than usual. Full of those inspired by Wimbledon to dust off their tennis rackets and have a knock-about. As well as regular players keen to improve their game.
It’s with a feeling of nostalgia that I recall my childhood tennis lessons, and the excitement of getting onto the school team. I still play from time to time now. There’s always a particular thrill of hitting a great shot - landing just inside the line.
In 1 Corinthians 24, Paul urges us to have a winning mindset when it comes to our salvation.
Of course, at the centre of Wimbledon is the compelling spectacle of watching incredible athletes competing, and winning. Whether you’re a tennis fan or not, there are some great principles - alongside biblical wisdom - that we can apply to our own lives. From "hall of fame" champions like Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer and Serena Williams to top-seeded players (and up-and-coming hopefuls); what does it take to win Wimbledon?
The Will to Win
Entering into competition at this level takes a serious will to win. Without that determination no-one plays at Wimbledon - you’ve got to have the drive and desire for it. In 1 Corinthians 24, Paul urges us to have a winning mindset when it comes to our salvation. Trying not to lose, is not enough - we’re to approach things like an athlete in order to win the prize.
A Good Coach
For a tennis player, having the right coach can mean the difference between winning and losing. Not only is it about refining technique and mastering the game, but enabling a player to improve their mindset, competitive edge and physical fitness. Not to mention the facilities and teams of experts that contribute to a player’s success. Jesus provides us with an abundance of resources, including the Holy Spirit - our Counsellor; who is there to coach us in living wisely and well.
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Focus and Perseverance
Competing at an elite level requires major perseverance. In reaching Wimbledon players will already have experienced a catalogue of losses and victories. Maintaining focus is absolutely vital; to overcome disappointment, stay in peak condition and withstand the pressure of competition. Like those tennis players cheered on by the millions watching, Paul encourages us in Hebrews 12 to ‘throw off everything that hinders’; to lean fully into the journey of faith and KEEP GOING.
Practice Makes Perfect
Becoming a Wimbledon champion relies on those incremental improvements that come with consistent, daily routine. The discipline of doing tennis drills, practising shots (and practising again); plus working on agility and speed. Conditioning the body so that technique becomes automatic and reactions are second-nature. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul describes his own rigorous discipline and training - how could we benefit from applying this same approach to ourselves?
Being pushed to improve by facing a different set of strengths (and weaknesses) to your own is something the Bible describes as iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27 v17).
The experience of competition sharpens players’ reactions and hones their skills even more. Match winners often pay tribute to their opponents and fellow players for that challenge. Being pushed to improve by facing a different set of strengths (and weaknesses) to your own is something the Bible describes as iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27 v17). It’s important for our faith, and essential for our character.
Once Wimbledon is over frankly the inspiration to improve my tennis can start to wane a bit. But when it comes to my faith I can’t afford to let that happen. Applying the Bible’s principles to my life is game-changing. And approaching my faith like an athlete? Well, here’s to winning.