Former Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington has written a column for the USTA Florida website, in which he talks about the impact of his parents on his career and life, saying that he owes a lot of what he achieved to the values that they instilled in him as a child.
MaliVai Washington says tennis is the greatest sport in the world
The 51 year old Washington reached the finals of Wimbledon in 1996 and peaked at No. 11 in the rankings. He says his parents instilled in him and his siblings that they needed to work hard in order to achieve their goals right from their childhood - something that has helped him achieve what he has in the sport.
In the column, Washington says, "I consider tennis the greatest sport in the world. I’ve had the privilege of traveling and playing tennis throughout the world in over 25 countries and over half of the 50 United States doing what I love to do.
My life with tennis began at 5 years old when my dad put a tennis racquet in my hand and taught me and my siblings how to play. My parents drove me all around the country from the age of 7 for junior tennis tournaments before I received a scholarship to become a student-athlete at the University of Michigan.
A dream was realized when I joined the ATP Tour in 1989 and competed against the best at the highest levels of professional tennis. The American adds that while he did not achieve all of his goals, he did put in his best effort while pursuing them and does not regret any of the time that he spent on pursuing his goals on the court.
"My parents instilled in me and my siblings the value of self-worth and hard work. For my parents it was pretty simple: if you want to achieve something, be willing to work your butt off until you get it or die trying.
I can’t say that I achieved all of my goals, but I had a great time trying and have never regretted the time and effort I put into those goals. One goal was to win a Grand Slam title. I came close at the 1996 Wimbledon Championships.
I wanted to become a top 10 player, I reached number 11. I wanted to represent my country at the highest levels of the sport, I did so as a part of three Davis Cup teams and the 1996 Olympic team." The American player, who has spoken about racism amid the Black Lives Matter movement in recent times, also said that it was important for people to use their influence and position to talk about issues that impact their community and society.
"We all have a part to do to impact our community in some positive way. We need to engage where we feel comfortable, but the real growth happens when we step out of our comfort zone and engage further... I believe in the value of discussion.
These are very important times when I believe we must speak out, and we must not be complicit. For far too long so many people have not spoken out or protested against injustice (or anything for that matter) because they felt it may not have impacted them directly.
Or maybe it just wasn’t their thing... Your voice must be heard lest you stay seated and remain a part of the problem. I love my country too much to sit and watch life go by knowing that the generations who came before me suffered far greater than I can ever imagine.
I believe my upbringing and family history has brought me to where I am today and the spirit of my ancestors won’t allow me to ever rest on my laurels. I must forever use my voice, talents, influence and yes privilege, to stand up, speak out and honor the memories and sacrifices of those who came before me."
MaliVai Washington also has his own foundation, the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, which helps youth in Jacksonville in the areas of education, life skills and tennis.