Perhaps it's because of the increased presence of social networking sites in tennis, or because my posts were particularly depressing, but I got a lot of questions from FD readers asking why/how I could be a fan of players who, at the moment, in a relative sense, suck. How can you stay a fan of Ana? Dina's never going to be good again, you shouldn't torture yourself. Or, the more surprising question that I got from a number of people: "Isn't it just easier to root for Fed/Serena/Justine? Why do you put yourself through it?"
I suppose these questions struck a chord because they simply made no sense to me. I couldn't really understand why someone would ask that. To me, being a sports fan isn't about just celebrating the wins. It's not about what's "easiest". Isn't that the definition of being a fair-weather fan? And aren't fair-weather fans...just repugnant? It's, like, the easiest type of sports fan to be. You didn't suffer through the shit-times like I did. How dare you stand next to me and celebrate as fervently as I am? You didn't earn that right and you can't appreciate what this means.
For me (and I don't mean this is how it should be for everyone) the joy in being a sports fan *is* the suffering. It is the heartbreak you experience over and over again, every season, every tournament, and yet *choose* to endure, and inexplicably come back for more. You want to know why I do it? Why, despite any rational reason to do so, I still wake up at odd hours to search for a stream of a first round Ana match knowing that odds are she will lose (and lose badly)?
Hope that it won't happen. Hope that maybe this year or this week, things will change. For all my jokes about being a cynical misanthrope, I'm actually, at my core, hopeful. My cynicism keeps me grounded, but hope is what gets me out of bed to watch Andy Murray disappoint a nation at 4am. And my hope reminds me, as I lie crumpled on the floor in the middle of my living room after Andy muffed that backhand volley for the break (true story), that this lowest of lows will be the highest of highs when he finally breaks through.
I mean, does anyone doubt that if Ana wins another Slam that Curtis will be the #1 most happiest person in the world? And would anyone argue that he would deserve it? I think back to when Elfie won the USO. Literally, my first thought after he won was of Gauloises of New Balls, Please, who was an Elf fan when it wasn't cool and who endured a lot of ribbing and disappointment for her die-hard love for that guy. When he finally won I could not have been happier for her. She deserved it.
All this is to say, keep the faith, tennis fans. There are so many questions about 99% of the field right now. And it would be very easy to abandon ship. I actually don't begrudge anyone who, in the interest of self-preservation, chooses to do so. That sounds pretty fucking rational, actually. But sticking it out has its privileges.