I’m using the word ‘predator’ here in a positive sense. Not all predatory acts are evil. Some flow purely out of self-belief and are appropriate to the circumstances. Conversely, I can’t begin to describe how important it is to believe in yourself. When that quality is lost, one becomes vulnerable to the predators of the world. And the world is filled with predators – some of whom are professional tennis players.
It takes a particular predatory mindset, for example, to take advantage of another player’s injury. I looked at the match between 20-year-old Lauren Davis and the clearly injured Victoria Azarenka at the 2014 Indian Wells tournament. And despite the 6-0 7-6 (2) score line, I concluded that Davis is a piss-poor predator.
A good predator would have won that match 6-0 6-0. Serena Williams would have won that match 6-0 6-0. Serena is a born predator. She shows no mercy. If you’re injured, that is your problem. She will stalk you and crush you. It takes an exquisitely developed sense of self-belief, as well as a non-empathetic kind of ruthlessness to be so single-minded as you kick someone in the teeth while they’re down.