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Lake, Robert J.
Playing etiquette, social class, and the changing landscape of tennis in the post-war period
This project explores the connections between playing etiquette in tennis and structures of social class. Expanding from earlier intersectional studies examining connections between etiquette, gender, and social class in tennis in the late-Victorian era, this present project seeks to discover how changes to the sport in the post-war era mainly at the elite level – notably its rampant professionalization, commercialization and globalization – have impacted on how on-court etiquette is understood, valued, expressed and enforced. Primary source data includes mainly biographies/autobiographies from former players as well as instruction guides – books about ‘how to play tennis’ – which often included sections or chapters about tennis etiquette. These publications proliferated in the 1970s and 80s especially, at a time when tennis underwent something of a ‘boom’ in popularity. The presence of these sections/chapters on etiquette attests to its sustained importance. Simply put, knowing how to play the various strokes was not enough to be a true ‘player’ or to be accepted into a club; one had to learn how to behave on court or risk ostracization. This study concludes by considering why playing etiquette in tennis continues to matter in the 21st century, at both elite and recreational levels, despite the gradual but nearly complete erosion of many forms of what might be termed ‘gentlemanly’ and ‘ladylike’ behaviour as an expression of status.
Tennis--Social aspects--HistoryTennis--Rules--Social aspects--HistorySex role and sports--HistorySocial classes--HistoryEtiquette--Social aspects--History