"Melanie Oudin isn't just the biggest thing to hit U.S. tennis since the Williams sisters began winning big a decade ago. She could be the fresh face that helps reinvigorate the sport in this country." -Tim Dahlberg, Chicago Tribune
With her positive attitude, competitive spirit and friendly demeanor, Melanie Oudin makes for a much needed role model for girls in sports. But she's an inspiration to older women too. Yesterday was the first day of the indoor season at my tennis club, the North Shore Racquet Club, and Oudin was the name on everyone's lips.
"Oudin gives me hope, because she plays like me," said Denise, an attractive, fit woman with two kids in college. "She's not very tall, she doesn't have any big weapons, but she just hangs in there and wins." My sentiments exactly, Denise (who by the way, is at least 3 inches taller than I am.)
Today, women's tennis is dominated by Russian women who are close to 6 feet tall. Oudin's opponent in the 4th round, Maria Sharapova, is 6'2" for crying out loud. I may not meet many Russian amazons in my 4.0 matches, but I certainly come across women who are stronger, faster and younger - and at 5'3", I'm usually the shortest one on the court.
What Oudin's surprising success at the US Open demonstrates is the most important trait for success is believing in yourself. And we're never too old for that.