Pete Sampras: “Play hard and do it on your own terms” – letter to his 16-year old self

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Tennis player Pete Sampras wrote a letter to his 16 year old self, as published on and reblogged from www.theplayerstribune.com

Dear 16-year-old Pete,

You’re about to go pro, and you’re pretty excited. Deep in your heart you know you’re eventually going to succeed. But believe me, it’s coming a lot sooner than you think. You’ll have your early ups and downs, but in just a couple of years, you’re gonna fight your way into the Top 5 in the world rankings, and you’ll win the U.S. Open, beating the likes of Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi in the process. At 19, you’ll be the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Open.

That’s when everything will change.

You’ll be an up-and-coming American with no exposure one day; then, when you wake up the morning after winning the Open, you’ll be on talk show after talk show. All eyes will be on you, and the attention will take some getting used to — it won’t mesh well with your reserved personality.

There’s more to being a pro than just playing tennis. The more successful you are, the more people will want out of you. It won’t always be something you’ll want to do, and it won’t always be fun. The pressure will be as exhausting as anything you’ll ever do on the tennis court. But as a tennis champion, you have that responsibility. You play tennis because you love the game, not because you love the limelight, so get ready. Think about getting some media training. It’ll go a long way. Luckily, you’ll be out of the game before these things called Twitter and Facebook come around. Be thankful for that. One day you’ll understand what I mean.Oh, and put the newspaper down. Don’t read what people are saying about you. No good can come of it. And if you do hear or read something negative about yourself, don’t sweat it. Let your racket do the talking.

He talks a lot about his career and the need to appreciate people. He ends his letter by saying:

You’re 16 years old and your life is just beginning, but don’t get sucked into always looking ahead. It’s tough because after every tournament — even when you win — your focus immediately shifts to the next one. Take time to appreciate your major wins and share them with your family and friends. Take advantage of your youth and enjoy it. The journey truly is the reward.Play hard, do it on your own terms and stay true to yourself. Do that, and you can’t go wrong.

Sincerely,

Pete

It’s not only tennis stars that can benefit from looking back and connecting with their younger selves. What would you tell your younger self? Send your letter to letters@showinguptoday.com – share the wisdom and the hard-won experience with others, and send some love to your less wrinkled version…

I’d love to hear from you!
Melanie
(Author of the book Dive in – Unlocking happiness and miracles: a conversation with my 20-year old self, available on Amazon.com)

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