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Sarah on Tour

View Sarah's photos from the tour circuit.

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Happy weekend everyone! From my new ponytail and I. 😂

#ANiceTourSurprise #ICanFinallyTieMyHair #MissPonytail #ShesBack
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6 days ago

nice!

5 days ago
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The sign though ... 😉

5 days ago
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I can relate to having that little tail 😄

6 days ago
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Very cool shot

6 days ago   ·  1
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Glimpses of Love - Life On Tour.

He pulled his little sister up by her chest. Straining precariously on his heels so she could peer into the buffet’s rich cereal array. Her little neck strained, like a careful swan over a luxurious array of breadings. She indicated her cereal of choice. He carefully put her down. Quietly, she gave him her bowl. He took it, and patiently ladled some in.

I wondered if they would remember this moment, twenty years from now.

The ties that bind us.
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2 weeks ago

I really hope you'll consider writing a book about your journey.

2 weeks ago   ·  2
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Abortion in Algeria

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“I am 46 years old!” she exclaimed. The crows feet around her eyes wrinkled as she shook her head, half embarrassed, half in disbelief.

The little dumpling of a human being beside her was too cute. The pink she was wrapped in, matched the healthy hue in her cheeks. She looked like a little peach, content in her pram. Her mother smiled at me and laughed again.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t want the baby. My children are already grown up, and I have health problems. I wanted to abort the baby, I was so depressed, I kept crying every day. Even my children wanted me to go for an abortion! We were so happy with our life. They didn’t want me to risk my life having a baby at my age.”

“But abortion in Algeria is illegal. I wanted to come to Tunisia because it is possible to do it here. But my husband…”

Her eyes rolled to the side, and she jerked her head towards a bald man sitting behind her,

“He is a doctor. He said no. We keep the baby. So I listened.”

She touched my arm as she talked, her big eyes thinking, recounting, pulling in the memories. The baby was so cute, I wanted to carry her, but stayed listening at her mum, and played with her wrapped little pink leg instead.

“The pregnancy was very, very difficult.” She shook her head again as her lips pursed. I admired how her shawl stayed on her head the whole time.

“I did not have a strong pelvic floor to hold the baby in, so I was in bed from my fourth month, all the way. I held the baby in till full term! There were so many doctors looking at me. Always making tests, always examining me. I was so depressed, I felt tired all the time.”

“But when the baby finally came out!” She straightened her back and sat up. Her eyes brightened, and that smile came back again. Radiant. Heartfelt. Beautiful.

“We! We all became all so happy.”
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3 weeks ago

Life is precious and with love at the most difficult circumstances. 🙏🏻💖✨

3 weeks ago
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With every measure of difficulty, comes a way of escape.

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He sat at the next table. The only other person in a whole row of table-for-twos, facing the buffet line. Many of the other tables in this large dining hall were for parties of four, but here was where the toosies sat. Because of the way the tables were arranged in proximity to the food, one oft got stared at like you were part of the buffet line. Here, the array featured bored, unhappy English couples staring absently at each other. Or old retirees who’d come alone on holiday, sitting with cold salad for company. I was slightly mortified that the maître d'hôtel had deported me to the execution row.

The only other person on death besides this neurotic Singaporean tennis player, didn’t seem to notice it much though. He was a bald elderly man with a big pot belly, and puffy slit eyes. He spotted a mustache and had brownish-red tanned skin—the type you see on caucasians who love the sun with gusto. “Thank you boss. Very good food boss,” there was a deep, lyrical tilt in his voice as he beckoned the waiter for some more white wine. It wasn’t condescending or trite a tone like what I had I overheard in other tourists at the hotel. It sounded honest, genuine, and I turned to look at its owner. It belonged to an elderly gentleman named Charlie.

The more I travel, the more I realise that the concept of the elderly and aging in Singapore is oft very dated compared to many other parts of the world. This official tournament hotel where we stayed was host to slews of English retirees, a dime a dozen visiting Tunisia. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were coming alone, with a spouse, or a friend. It was obvious that everyone was there to enjoy—and as Charlie and I started talking, I admired that he had been enjoying Tunisia on holiday for 20 over years now. I was glad to be able to ask him questions I have always wanted, but never been able to ask similar aged people in Singapore. What did you do for a living? What did you learn from your friends? What were your dreams? What do you do now? Where have you found meaning? What makes you tick? Surely, there is so much to learn from a life lived twice to thrice as long as mine.

And sure enough, as much as we talked, Charlie slowly became a regular meal acquaintance, and our friendship grew. I am very wary of men while on Tour—and very sensitive to any hint of the leering male gaze. But there was something simple, honest and uncomplicated about Charlie. He had no children, had never been married and never seen the need to. And inspite of having paved a conceivably hectic life as a musician (professional guitarist, hello!), he described his life with a lucid clarity free of drugs and the typically clawing vices that come with living a long life in that industry.

Instead, he spent his time telling me about how he volunteered with a church missionary for two years. About an old friend who was an absolutely amazing guitarist, but never made it as a musician because he kept his talent only to himself, and eventually died undiscovered. About his great love for northern rugby. I shared with him stories about the intense projects my agent Bani and I were working on, how we were taking a huge chance on a lot of things. Charlie echoed how essential business sense was in the development of the professional self. He encouraged me to listen to Bani. I reckoned to listen.

And then as the meals wore on, we talked about God. How another musician friend of his got miraculously healed of cancer after prayer, and became a devout Christian. I shared with him a Hillsong song I had on loop then (So Will I, 100 Billion X) and it’s wicked lyrics that were so stunningly written. He loved it and in his own personal search for God, called it “spot on.” The greatest compliment he paid me was “Sarah, you talk about your walk with God in a way that doesn’t turn me off, but instead, makes it relatable.”

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Austrian neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl talks about how there are three basic tenets in life—the experential: what happens to us; the creative—what we bring into existence; and the attitudinal—how we respond to difficult circumstances.

There is one story Charlie told me, that I don’t think I will ever forget. It was about 30 years ago and he was driving home late from a music festival he had played in. It was the wee hours of the morning, and just as he was about to take the roundabout to start his long haul ride home, he saw two hitchhikers standing awkwardly at the fork, trying to flag a ride. "No one stands at a roundabout like that. I knew they had to be tourists!" He exclaimed. And Charlie being Charlie, stopped his car and wound down his window. “Where are you going?” he buzzed, through squinting eyes, searching the faces of a young Czech couple, going up north. He invited them to hitch a ride with him, and that marked the start of a long friendship. This couple eventually got married, and over the years, Charlie became family to all their three kids. He knew their ages, all of them by name, and the fact that mum and dad were starting to get stressed with money because their oldest was starting university soon.

“Yes it is a very great strain on them,” Charlie blinked his eyes and shook his head solemnly. The old skin on his chin quivered like a turkey's wobble, acknowledging this difficult development.

“But I gave it a thought, and I have some investments maturing soon...”
He leaned forward, looked me in the eye and nodded.

“I’m going to offer to help pay for Marianne’s school fees.”

He pursed his mouth slightly and shrugged his shoulders. A true attest to his modesty,

“I hope they will let me. I really don’t have any other use for this money.”

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The other one memory I will always have of Charlie is seeing him through the restaurant’s window panes while I was at breakfast. It was an exceptionally bright sunny day and he was hurrying across the pool toward the beach in his swimtrunks, barefoot. His back was bare and to the sun. He looked genuinely happy.

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The experience. What we create of it. The attitude we take to life’s challenges. This is what gives us true freedom.

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After dinner on the last night of his stay in Tunisia, I gave Charlie a hug. There was something special about this old man. So big hearted, and genuine, he was, never pushy, insistent, or brutish in presence. It could have been weird that I should feel that way, but for those who have had the blessing of experiencing wonderful platonic friendships, I honestly saw past all social veneers, and recognized only a new found friend who had helped me tide through a very difficult past week (see previous post). “When the time comes, you must come to my wedding!” I said as I hugged him a second time. “Alright, alright I will.” Charlie smiled and the corners of his mustache curled up in quiet humor. Something told me we would stay friends for a long time.

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I saw Charlie off on his tour bus the next morning. I was late and all the tourists had boarded by the time I reached. The hotel had gaudy 70s disco music blasting from a portable speaker they had wheeled in—an attempt to add some sense of festivity to an otherwise stagnant, somewhat depressing affair. He sat on the last row in the bus, by the window, and his face lit into a smile when he saw me. “I play in an hours’ time!” I tried to sign language, unsuccessfully. He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. The truth was, there wasn’t much left to say, except, perhaps, embarassing things like how I really enjoyed his friendship. Our conversations. How I thought he was a wonderful human being. Thank you for being there and encouraging me, Charlie. From the bottom of my heart, I genuinely wish you every happiness for years to come.

The tarmac between where his bus and I stood, would only yawn further in a matter of minutes. The orbs of our paths veering us back and away, to our different galaxies. My eyes teared as we waved. We did, until we saw each other no more.
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3 weeks ago

You write too well, Sarah! Continue to walk with God. What are the 2 packs of Epsom salt on the table for?

3 weeks ago
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Oh Sarah, this made me cry.... on the MRT. Hope your Tour’s going well!

3 weeks ago   ·  1
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Thank you for sharing this. =)

3 weeks ago
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Buried to Grow.

The cold air kisses my nose as I lean forward into a deep stretch. The thin rubber floor beneath my knees is uncomfortably cool to touch. But there is no space for moving. I am locked in now, committed to the task at hand.

This series of tournaments in Tunisia plays on clay. For my non-tennis playing friends, there are generally 4 surfaces in tennis. Hard, grass, carpet, and clay. Clay in particular, is the slowest surface, comprising of soft, finely stratified sedimentary rock that is formed from consolidated mud or clay. Because it is soft and breaks apart easily, it is easy to slide on. Yet, it also gives enough resistance to twist and break against. It takes skill to learn how to manouevere on, as many times, you need to generate force under torque, whilst sliding into position. You need great core, adductor and groin strength for control in these moving situations. It’s the punishing nature of clay, but it's great for overall development as it also trains patience.

It is this patience under stress that is hard to replicate. Serena Williams explained during her comeback at Indian Wells last month, “I can't really replicate the situation no matter how much I do in practice.” Aptly explained, in a loose way, it’s similar with playing on a different surface. Nothing really prepares you for the real thing, and true enough, three days in, my groin, back and adductors were sore. I texted my physio Danielle from City Osteo and Physio, “What should I do? Am I missing out on anything in my prehab?” I asked. “No.” she answered back. “Keep going. Your body’s just adjusting to the surface.”

And it’s true. If this surface is in any manner representative of a larger story at play, this is a season of adjustments. A season of forbearance. A season of learning to receive strength and love, the deeper I go, the more piercing the winds get. Why hello, Tour. You old friend. You’re back.

A week or so into my time here, after getting killed in my first round singles match (I struggled with nerves and the surface a lot), I had someone come up to me and tell me how watching me play on court was like watching “a bathroom singer trying to be a professional singer.” In the same breath, it was suggested I was misleading others in my journey, and I was urged instead, to consider another path outside playing, because “only people who don’t know tennis would support you.” Tour throws you all kinds of curveballs—and while that person used that one match to generate that stinging opinion, I had two options. One: Respond “Get lost” (to put it very mildly), or Two: choose in word and deed, to be gracious, in spite of how low those words batted.

It took a lot out of me to choose the higher path.

One thing I’ve learnt from Tour is that the longer you are on the road, the more you have to be conscientious about giving your body and mind time and space to recover. It goes the same for any manner of work, in any profession when you are on assignment. The stress of being on the road accumulates, and while one might not feel it in the first two weeks, you def. need more “top up” (i.e. more sleep, more forgiveness, wider margins for recovery) in week three and four. It’s quite like living a diametrically opposed oxymoron—go hard on your play, go even harder on your sleep and recovery.

How do you respond to difficult times?

This unpleasant episode forced me to think about the motif and the reasons why I always end up responding in certain ways. Vas my old coach used to tell me “Sarah you are not enough of a bitch on court.” Apparently all the top players are big bitches. Perhaps it's the nature of this individual sport. Maybe I have a long way to go in that (don't despair, I know that bitch is hidden deep down in there somewhere,... haha). But to me, the real question is what I am called to do in this season. I know I am to play, and I know I am also called to love others. While loving is not to be confused with being a push over, it also takes a lot of maturity to recognise that many times, when people say shit about you, it reflects more on them and the struggles they themselves are going through. So if that be, and if I know that my journey as a person first, and a player second, is meant to be salt and light to those around me, then let everything that I do, and much of what I say, be meant to uphold others in love, grace and forbearance.

Look down on that mat, and feel that deep stretch. After all, between these shades and shadows, the end purpose is always to find You. Again.
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4 weeks ago

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U write beautifully Sarah! And God must be so proud of you when you chose to take the higher path. He watches your every action silently, and He honors them all. Keeping you in prayer!

4 weeks ago   ·  1
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Your writing reminds me of another athlete who wrote about why he runs and how that influences everything else in his life. His book "Running and Being" completely changed my attitude to running. He is George Sheehan.

4 weeks ago
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Thats a good pose Sarah... I should do that too! Besides that pose.. this is overall amazing what you do Sarah.. dedicating yourself and living your passion. I am speechless. I am a big fan of yours.

3 weeks ago
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Freely we receive, freely we give! Your heart is big because His is bigger than all of ours combined🙆

4 weeks ago
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Big hug my friend! 💚

3 weeks ago
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Hugz...

4 weeks ago
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Be strong! It's your journey, no one else's.

4 weeks ago   ·  1
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Keep going! 加油 💪

4 weeks ago   ·  1
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