Former No. 1 ranked tennis star, Kim Clijsters was playing a friendly Ladies' Invitation Doubles Match at Wimbledon on Saturday when she did something that shocked the crowd. Bringing a bit of levity to the match, Clijsters asked spectators if she should serve wide or down the middle. One person shouted above the rest, "body serve," (yes, there is such a thing).
Clijsters laughed in reply, "You said body? Why don't you go there?"! She then invited him to the court to face her intimidating serve. Much to the crowd's delight the Irishman, now identified as Chris Quinn, gladly hopped the small fence and borrowed a racket.
By this time the laughter on and off court was uproarious, but Clijsters wasn't done. To avoid breaking Wimbledon's staunch regulations any further, she ran to her bag and grabbed her new opponent a white tennis skirt. The Belgian star ended up rolling on the court in fits of laughter while attempting to assist the Quinn in getting the shorts over his portly form. Quinn managed to squeeze into them and poised his borrowed tennis racket to face the low odds of returning Clijsters's serve. Watch the video for the outcome: It's well worth the two minutes.
While Wimbledon has its fine, long-standing reputation in tennis, it's not often we see such a delightful interaction. Clijsters had the courage to follow her natural instincts and take the match in this unexpected direction.
We have some things to learn from the Belgian tennis pro's stunt. Clijsters teaches us to loosen up a bit, take a few risks, and that some rules are made to be broken.
Just be yourself.
There's a right and a wrong time bring levity into a situation, but why do so many business owners remain serious all the time? Even when (especially when) times are tough, humor is a wonderful way to break the ice. It takes us out of the doldrums and helps to shift a negative perspective. Laughter is good for us. And it certainly makes us more likable.
Ask for what you want.
Clijsters could have ignored the man in the stands, but she felt a desire to playfully challenge him. It could have gone any number of ways, but it played out well for all concerned. She took a chance.
Don't beat around the bush when you want something--ask outright. If you spend your valuable time worrying about being embarrassed or turned down, you'll get left behind.
Humor is often better than conflict.
Quinn was being a bit obnoxious and certainly sarcastic when he shouted from the stands. Clijsters had the choice of taking the game too seriously, and perhaps challenging him, or being lighthearted about the situation. Over the years, many athletes have taken spectators, judges, and opponents to task, creating a stressful environment. If you can defuse a situation with humor, do it.
Bend the rules, but maybe not too far.
The announcers at this doubles match mentioned more than once that the activity on the court was "certainly against the rules," but technically, Clijsters followed one important rule. At Wimbledon, every player on the court must be in all white. While done in jest, dressing Quinn in whites showed respect for the long-standing tradition.
The old saying, "rules are made to be broken," is true to some extent. Go ahead, stretch or break the rules made up by society as well as those you've defined yourself. Just make sure to follow your values and never intentionally cause harm to others.
As a final note, Clijsters and her teammate, Rennae Stubbs, went on to win the match 6-2, 7-5.