The origins of tennis date back to as early as the 12th century, with players striking the ball with just the palm of the hand. It wasn’t until the 16th century that rackets were introduced and only in the mid 1800’s that the game became properly established. However, what remains consistent throughout the centuries is the distinguished level of etiquette and sportsmanship displayed by its players for what is known as a “gentleman’s sport”.
Just last week, two controversial incidents at Roland Garros suggested a fall in the level of sportsmanship presented by the professionals. Nick Kyrgios was once again issued a warning for the tone of voice he used towards a ball boy, while previously obtaining a suspension earlier this year at the Australian Open for the use of inappropriate language with regard to Stan Wawrinka. Furthermore, the ITF states that “A player shall use his best efforts to win a match when competing in a grand slam tournament”, however, the Australian player failed to fulfill these requirements hence landing himself with a hefty fine at Wimbledon last year.
It was not only from the men’s side that problems were caused at the French major, but also from the women’s. Tatjana Maria is threatening to sue Alize Cornet for supposedly cheating in the third round of the grand slam. Cornet allegedly received treatment for camping on multiple occasions disrupting the rhythm of the game for the German player. Maria confronted Cornet at the end of the match and later took to social media to express her emotions.
It is not just in recent years that this unsporting behavior has come to surface. Andre Agassi, and perhaps the most famous of all to contend the umpire’s decisions, John McEnroe, have both been subject to tantrums on the court. However, in recent years it seems that certain players have lowered themselves to making personal comments towards their competition and failing to comply with some of the rules.
The question that remains is what can be done to stop this? It appears to be that fines don’t deter the players as they should with the large incomes top professionals earn. Aside from fines and suspensions, is there something else that can be done to restore the authenticity of the etiquette that was born with the game?