Thump. Thump. Thump. The woman on the right of the court yelled every time she hit the ball. In stark contrast, the woman on the right was absolutely silent. The ball continued to move from side to side until finally, the woman on the left, the American, made a misstep, and the point went the way of the Russian on the other side. The referee blew his whistle. “The score is thirty to fourty, match point.”
The crowd watched in anticipation as the Russian looked down, lifted the ball above her head, and then served. In a few short strokes, the whistle was blown, and the crowd erupted into cheers. The Russian had won a nearly perfect match, winning the first set six to zero and the second one with only a single loss. After the post-match interview, the player headed back into the changing room.
Anastasia Sokolov left the changing room and headed towards her ride. Sokolov was twenty-five, and in her prime. She already had multiple trophies from major competitions around the world, and winning this match meant she was going to Wimbledon this year. As the settled into the luxury car’s back seat, her thoughts turned to her father. Anastasia and her siblings, Dimitri and Valeriya, had been taught since their birth that family was everything. While the members of the family marketed this to be more likable, there was little to no actual love between them. What the phrase actually referred to was the family name. Sokolov. The Solokov family had been one of Russia’s leading families ever since the Russian Revolution, when Anastasia’s Grandfather, Alexei, had capitalized on his relationship with Joseph Stalin’s close advisors, who gave him the very important job of the distribution of rations in Leningrad. Of course, Alexei did not simply distribute the food, but rather cut down on the people’s rations and sold off the extra food to wealthy nobles and government officials, thus becoming one of the richest men in Russia. In the following years, Alexei alerted Stalin of Trotsky supporters, and with his frequent food deliveries to competing businessmen, planted evidence in their homes, which led directly to Stalin’s Great Purge, and the assassination of the mayor of Leningrad. With his newfound wealth and political power, Alexei taught his son Albert that the family name must be preserved, advanced, and must always command respect.
Albert Sokolov approached power in a different way. His father had taught him that the family name was the most important thing in life, and so Sololov decided that he wanted his family to be the best at everything. Of course, this could not be done in his lifespan, so Albert planned for the future. In 1961, Albert founded the Sokolov School of Fine Arts, Athletics, and Academics. Here, the Sokolovs recruited children from all over the world who were proficient in certain things. Many of their graduates excelled in their field, which gained the family influence over the politics of other nations, the media, and of course, many athletic fields.
Ever since she was young, Anastasia had received no love from her family, but then again, neither had any of the other children. Their purpose was solely to further the family name, and they did just that. Anastasia had showed great promise in Tennis, and her father recognized the success this could bring to the family. So, he gathered all the gifted young tennis players of Anastasia’s generation, and one by one, during their time at the school, they all had unfortunate accidents that prevented them from playing tennis ever again. Thus, Anastasia was now one of the best tennis players of her generation, and was reaching for the top. When she reached the age of forty, she knew what her role was. She was to teach at the academy, never marry, and of course never have children. The Solokolov name needed to be passed down, and thus, only their male members could have children. As she exited the car, all she could think about, and had to think about, was the name. Sokolov.