Well, it's not my place to tell anyone how to feel, but it's true of both sports AND life in general that acts of heroism often involve ordinary people who are given the chance to do extraordinary deeds partly due to a confluence of circumstances(others might use words like 'destiny', 'luck' or 'divine will'). Though I'm not a fan of hers, per se, I thought that it was very inspiring when Stosur overcame her tendency to choke in big matches by beating Referee Killer(RK) in the 2011 USO final, even though it was certainly a weird, abnormal result.
As for 'bittersweet', IMO Elena's Beijing 2008 triumph was even more impressive than Marion's recent crown, and it's often simplistic reasoning skills that lead someone to underestimate Elena's Gold as being somehow less than a Slam. The fact that the Olympics have six rounds instead of seven is kind of a stupid excuse because top seeds like Elena would normally get a cupcake opponent in the 1st round of a traditional Slam. Instead, every single one of Elena's six opponents had won at least one singles title in her career, and it's VERY rare that someone would face such a draw en route to a Slam final. The Olympics feature the best from every country, so the overall quality level is much higher than you'd find amongst the last 64 players who commence the 2nd round of a Slam, and Elena's draw wasn't really ANY easier by virtue of not facing some high-school-aged WC or qualifier in the 1st round to give her seven victims instead of six. If you go back to the 'dinosaur era'
, the very top seeds sometimes got byes for the 1st rounds of Slams so those eventual champions, too, beat 'only' six players. What's most compelling is that Elena defeated Serena on her favorite surface and, what's more, beat her in international competition where SW has almost NEVER lost if you check the Fed Cup records. Despite RK's common post-match whining that she gave the match away by playing poorly, Elena just TOOK the match from her with superior play, according to impartial observers. As Max posted, that Gold was her #1 tennis dream and she fulfilled it
Finally, I'll echo what Max posted about Elena living on her terms: I've read that pornography was huge in Russia, and there's no doubt in my mind that Elena has been offered VERY generous sums of money to pose for sleazy photoshoots for some magazine or another. Even if it wasn't always porno, per se, there were surely Russian versions of FHM and the like who wanted her to do push-the-envelope stuff that is typical of Kournikova and others. No question that Elena could've seriously fattened her wallet with such pics...but that's not who she is
and, quite frankly, that's just one more reason why she's so beautiful
in the eyes of so many