Portrait of a Genius as a Young Girl

It’s not often that we get to witness the first swings of someone who goes on to be the best tennis player in the world. Today’s our lucky day: here is Dinara Safina, current world number one player, taking her first swings at Spartak. We all know how great she became. The question is, did she have some special gift that separated her from other kids her age?

  • Does she an unusual level of natural coordination? (Uh, no–check out the pratfall at the 17-second mark.)
  • Does she exhibit unusually sharp hand-eye ability (Not really.)
  • Does she have a naturally efficient swing? (Not unless underhand is efficient.)

Yet I think we can see the real gift here: She’s falling in love with this game. Her coach (her mother) has wisely cut down her racquet and given her a soft, bouncy ball to play with. Dinara is having a complete blast out there. When she misses, she chases it down and does it again. This is how it begins.