By Mario Andrada
(Opinion) Beatriz Haddad-Maia (Bia) recently bowed out in the Roland Garros semi-final to the world number 1, Iga Swiatek (6/2, 7/6), restoring national pride by showcasing an incredible performance from a homegrown talent on an international stage.
In the Grand Slam, the term for the four major tennis championships, Brazilian athletes emerged as the standout surprises.
Thiago Wild bested the world number 2, Daniil Medvedev, in the first round, while Bia made it to her first semi-final, ultimately succumbing to the top-ranked player in the world.
Although the title currently eludes her, she’s surely closer to achieving it, perhaps even by this year’s end. In a country wrestling with biases, heroes resonate more deeply than their results.
Beatriz Haddad Maia’s story is inspiring for young tennis enthusiasts.
Bia, having triumphed over injuries, geographical barriers, and adversaries, has not only clinched the title of “best surprise” of Roland Garros but is also hailed by peers and former colleagues for her professionalism and resilience.
Her ability to perform under pressure and maintain emotional control serve as benchmarks in the world of tennis.
According to the latest International Tennis Federation (ITF) report, 1.17% of the global population, or 87 million individuals, play tennis.
The sport is almost equally participated in by both genders, with women comprising 47% of players.
Ranking tenth globally in terms of the number of athletes, Brazil embodies Nike’s slogan: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Irrespective of whether one competes or simply enjoys the sport, tennis attracts 2.2 million Brazilians.
Despite having 4,990 clubs (5th in the world) and 4,900 courts (20th in the world), only 15% of players are women, revealing the sport’s restricted access to less privileged classes and the gender imbalance.
The discussion of Brazil’s ability to consistently produce sporting legends is a perennial topic in sports commentary.
It is baffling how a nation that largely neglects grassroots sports and restricts their accessibility can foster so many idols.
We have delved into this topic while discussing the likes of Pelé, Romário, Ronaldo, Gustavo Kuerten, Ayrton Sena, Eder Jofre, Hortênsia, Paula, Marta, the skateboarding fairy Rayssa Leal, and multiple champion Rebeca Andrade.
The discussion will continue with the focus on Beatriz Haddad Maia.
The gender disparity in sports is seldom highlighted. Many of our sports heroes endure the fleeting spotlight of fair-weather fandom, celebrated in victory but overlooked in training.
Some, like the 17-year-old Antonella Bassani, the first woman to win a Porsche Cup race, remain largely unknown.
Fortunately for Brazil, there is an ever-replenishing wellspring of new talent.
For instance, volleyball has recently celebrated the accomplishments of a young women’s team under coach José Roberto Guimarães, starring players like Macris, Gabi, Carol, and newcomer Ana Cristina.
The Women’s FIFA World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20th to August 20th, presents an opportunity for Brazilian fans to embrace their women’s team.
Imagine a team playing with the grace of our volleyball girls, the power of our judokas, the resilience of Bia Haddad, the skill of the Skateboarding Fairy, and the elegance of Rebeca.
This team would certainly be champions.
If the team coached by Pia Sundhage receives the same level of support that their male counterparts enjoy, the year that began with celebrating Bia could end with a world football championship.
Beatriz Haddad-Maia, tennis Brazil, sports news Brazil, Bia Brazil, national pride Brazil