Drama Fiction Romance

As Irina Ubetekov charged across the court at Wimbledon she returned each serve with more deliberate power than she had put behind any of the thousands she had made during her storied 10-year career as the now top-ranked woman player in the world.

She believed this historic contest, unlike any of thousands that had come before, would cap off her climb up the summit of the tennis world, and this could be her final tournament. She wanted to go out with a flourish on her record, avoiding the dreaded “40-Love” at all costs.

For the winner of this, the first-ever mixed singles event in the storied history of the “world series of the grass courts,” it would garner more fame than any player in modern history.

Yet the possible thrill of victory in the milestone event brought with it very mixed feelings. Facing her on the other side of the net was Alexi Fortenkov, the top-ranked male player in the world, but, more importantly, the super stud with whom she had carried on a torrid love affair for more than a year.

The flame of their romance had ignited after a post-match tournament party held to celebrate the fact that they had vanquished both of their respective opponents in the male and female singles events.

It had continued to burn brightly with liaisons both inside the world of the nets and the exclusive excursions made possible by the great wealth brought about by their volleying skills.

All had not gone exactly as a grand slam for them as faults in their lives outside of their magical romance held them back from bringing home the gold in their future.

Irina, a humble farm girl from rural Russia, enjoyed the fame and fortune her tremendous talents brought her, but she found herself unprepared for the political manuevering needed to build her into a media star.

Alexi, the son of a high-ranking diplomat, had grown up in suburban Moscow amid all the trappings of power so common to his family’s high station in life.

Conflicts between their two lifestyles inevitably ensued. The pair swore their love would conquer any obstacle, but their differences still lurked in the back courts of their lives.

They also found themselves confronting different approaches to their success in the tennis world, with Irina grateful for every victory and gracious to every opponent she vanquished on her climb to fame.

Alexi looked upon every contest as a battle and often nastily dismissed and belittled those unfortunate enough to be on the losing side of the net.

Before the historic Wimbleton mixed singles event, however, Irina thought she had

managed to bring Alexi around to her more restrained way of thinking, as she appealed to his gallantry and his romantic commitment to her.

He assured her before the match, “You are not just any opponent. I have invested too much of my emotions building up our relationship to throw it all away on negative feelings about an athletic event. No matter who wins, our off-the-court life will continue to blossom, as will my feelings for you.”.

Of course, many of her friends told the female champion this would prove much easier said than done. They believed Alexi’s legendary win-at-all-costs spirit and Siberian-bred temper would win out..

During Irina’s private moments with him she had seen nothing to support the legend. He had been a kind and thoughtful lover, and rumors of a marriage proposal in the very near future had captured as many headlines recently as the Wimbledon Tournament itself.

In the background also, other headlines persisted–of the fascination of American men’s champion Johnny Scaturo with the Russian women’s champion and of a clandestine affair.

Although Johnny made no secret of his admiration for the beauty from the East, both he and Irina time after time vehemently denied any romantic involvement, and proof of it never had gone beyond cheap tabloid stories apparently designed only to sell fly-by-night second rate media.

Now, in the final rounds of the mixed singles tournament, at first it looked like the unproven romance rumors would remain in the background, as Irina found herself trailing her current love badly.

As action picked up, however, she charged forward and returned volley after volley, finally wiping out Alexi’s lead and capturing the first mixed singles crown in the history of the tournament.

Her lover charged forward after Irina’s victory and the couple kissed and embraced, with the male player apparently fully living up to his pledge to proceed full speed ahead with their romance, not matter the outcome at the nets.

At the post-match parties, however, Alexi seemed unusually distant from Irina and, as she turned to leave the last celebration the newly-crowned mixed singles champion could find no sign of him.

When Irina returned to their hotel room she found all his clothes and belongings gone and her clothes scattered around the room. Hotel staff told her Alexi had hastily called his limousine right after the party and swiftly departed.

Irina’s Smartphone then rang several times. She picked up after the last signal and found a text message from Johnny Scaturo asking her to meet her in the hotel bar.

She ran to the elevator and through the lobby into the bar, flung herself into Johnny’s arms, as she tearfully told him of the scene in her hotel room.

Johnny said he would provide his support while she worked out her feelings, but would not force his intentions on her unless and until she was completely ready to accept him.

After a number of long walks in the parks of London and visits back and forth between the USA and her Moscow home, they decided they were made for each other.

Following their marriage six months later, Irina decided she was not ready to give up on either her tennis life or her romantic life. She and Johnny both signed up to play in the mixed singles tournament at Wimbledon.

This time, however, Irina faced Johnny in the finals and she again won. Unlike the last time, however, Johnny presented the winning trophy to his wife and they hosted a joint victory party.

Those following the professional tennis circuit found no trace of Alexi, although rumors surfaced of his retirement from the sport and his emergence as a new star on the professional wrestling scene.

October 04, 2022 20:38

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