Billie Jean King, one of tennis’ most well-known and respected legends, has nothing but praise for Milos Raonic and Maria Sharapova in a recent piece for Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune.
King’s essay, “The Value of Work Ethic,” makes it plain that talent alone isn’t what takes players to the top and she singled out both Raonic and Sharapova for their relentless pursuit of success.
“Not every tennis player, not every athlete, has the desire and the drive to always look for ways to improve. And even fewer are willing to put in the time, physical effort and emotional investment to keep improving and developing,” King writes.
As King points out, the hardest work often goes on in the background, away from cameras, with tangible change on court coming incrementally. In other words, the best need to be patient, a skill that doesn’t always come naturally to competitors. Raonic’s ability to focus on the future and remain committed to maximizing his gifts isn’t lost on King, or the Canadian’s coach, Ivan Ljubicic.
“We literally have a problem getting him to rest and that is something we are always working on,” Ljubicic told King. “His determination is so intense and the level of focus he puts in practice sessions is unmatched in tennis today, at least from what I see.”
With Raonic reaching elite status on the ATP tour, including being the highest-ranked Canadian men’s singles player, ever, at world No. 6, earning victories over champions like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and continually going deep in tournaments, the results the 24-year-old are after seem closer than ever. Not that Raonic is going to change his approach – he wants to be the best in the world, and knows there’s only one way for him to get there.
“Hard work is something you will find amongst everyone that is at the top of their field, their sport, their profession,” Raonic told King.
“It’s something you can’t take for granted and it is what gets you through those tough moments and really take you from being good, to being great, to being extraordinary.”