Heavy is the crown of a former World No. 1, especially when that someone is Serena Williams. Earlier this month, the tennis star walked out on the court to a packed crowd in Eastbourne, England, after almost a full year since her last tennis match. Needless to say, all eyes were on her. Could she make a comeback at 40? If her first match after the break is any indication, fans could be hopeful. But not too hopeful.
The Comeback Match Didn’t Matter All That Much
Although it was a doubles match, in which Serena Williams played alongside No. 3 Ons Jabeur, we still didn’t get all the answers we were looking for. When Serena announced her comeback, fans began to wonder if she’d be making a full-on comeback in hopes of catching the elusive 24th Grand Slam title or if she was just shooting in the dark, trying to see what happens. While she won the match with Jabeur, it still didn’t offer much insight into what we can expect from the star player.
The match itself matters little, experts say. After all, neither Serena nor Jabeur often plays doubles. But, the goal here was simple — get some court time before Wimbledon, to which she received a wildcard. So, playing doubles at Eastbourne was a smart way for Williams, who dropped to No. 1,204, to knock off some of the rust and prepare for the Grand Slam.
It Would Be Foolish to (Ever) Write Serena Williams Off
Despite being 40 and being absent from the tennis court for a little under a year, Serena Williams has long proven what a fighter she is, on and off the court. In the interview after the match with Ons, Serena expressed how “fun” and “great” it was to play, and she looked happy to be back.
Although her social media showed everything but preparing for tournaments in the last year, it would be foolish to ever write someone like Serena off. After all, you don’t win 23 Grand Slam titles if you’re not capable of greatness.
Professional sport is an unpredictable occupation. Injuries can halter your progress, or they can retire you prematurely. There are other things, however, that can lead to the same results, and Scottish hammer thrower Mark Dry almost felt it himself. After being caught in a lie that had him heavily punished, Dry is back in the game and wants nothing more than to finish his career on his own terms.
There’s nothing more heartbreaking for fans and humiliating for players when their doping tests come out positive. It all changed on October 15, 2018, for the two-time Commonwealth Games hammer bronze medalist. In an instant, and with one test, he was put in the same pool as serial cheaters and was quickly banished from the sport. It wasn’t because of a positive test result. It was because Dry tampered with the test in the first place.
After a series of charges being brought and dropped, he was eventually convicted of tampering with the test and came clean about what he had done. The sport released a four-year ban for Dry from hammer throwing. The ban was later reduced to 28 months which expired this January. Mark Dry finally got the green light to come back. and he did.
He Paid a Heavy Price
It’s safe to say that Dry’s athletic career took a downturn after the ban. His career as a sports therapist was also hurt by the suspension, not to mention the costs of appeal draining his funds. But, perhaps the biggest price was the public’s opinion of him. He has long criticized the “bizarre world of rules” stating that the association is “extremely negative.”
Mark Dry Is Back in the Cage
Although Mark Dry is back in training, he’s already thinking about life after he retires. He’s currently working as a handyman and is considering joining the fire service. In terms of hammer throwing, his goal is pretty simple — aim for one more medal at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. That would be his way of seeking redemption. His first competition after the ban was in Hull in late January, where he felt all the nerves and all the uncertainty of being back at the sport.
He’s not “bothered by what anyone thinks,” Dry says. What he really wants is to get back to doing what he loves and enjoys. He’s channeling all of his passion, motivation, indignation, and even anger that stem from his ban to help him qualify for the World and European Championships.
Time and again, Mark Dry has made it perfectly clear that no matter his results, he’ll go out there and do his best. Even if he comes last, he’ll do so with his head held high.