What is it with manners these days? They seem to have gone right out the window. Forget the everyday situations with please and thank you or acknowledging someone who stands back to let you pass. That sort of stuff is long gone; and especially so when you have to deal with call centres in countries where your own language is not really understood properly. That’s when things become highly frustrating and most definitely manners are next to obsolete.
I put my hand up on this. Totally acknowledge that I lose patience when talking to reps at a call centre in a country other than my own because I am convinced the people have been computerised with their responses and do not have a better understanding of a situation if handled by someone in the country where the company you are dealing with is actually based.
But that’s a matter for another discussion. What I’m talking about is what happens on a tennis court.
There was a time when a player actually stepped to one side or held back when there is a change of ends and the two players happen to get to the net at the same time. Sure players still wait but what I see more of is that players want to assert their authority and barge right through.
What about the Caroline Wozniacki-Sabine Lisicki incident at Wimbledon a couple of years ago? Lisicki deliberately bumped into Wozniacki on a change of ends while they were approaching their courtside benches. Wozniacki was sort of taken aback and there was a quizzical smile on her face and she commented to the chair umpire and shrugged her shoulders.
You probably see less of manners on the men’s tour but to many that would seem expected. The blokes are there to be tough and be in an opponent’s face. I don’t understand why that should be necessary though.
Rafa Nadal is often seen giving way to an opponent during a change of ends and often will be seen doing a sort of two-step and make a movement to one side in an effort to let an opponent pass.
I don’t understand why we can’t see more of that behaviour. A player can be focused and concentrated and be aggressive during points but this is not boxing (thankfully) where opponents are trash-talking at one another and just being down right repulsive with their behaviour.
And as for wrestling, well that is a total disgrace. It should not even be termed a sport, it’s more a farce and a joke, but the ill manners seen and highlighted in that sport has also channelled through.
You can see the rougher element of behaviour has come in across sport generally. There is a saying that goes “that is just not cricket”. What that means is that the sport of cricket was a gentlemen’s sport and there was respect and manners on the field so when bad manners prevailed people would say “that’s just not cricket”.
I blame a lot of this on the American culture and their team sports because so much of this lack of manners has stemmed from there. There is such a high degree of aggression that it has filtered down. The American audience wants to see testy situation happen because they feel it is part of the price of the ticket. That is just nonsense.
What happened to the days when both players would wait for the one another before leaving a court after a match? It rarely happens these days. In my opinion that is just ill mannered. I fully understand that when you lose a match you just want to get out of there and lick your wounds and I can understand if you have to wait for someone like Nadal to pack up his things, it could take a while, but being gracious after a loss is what helps to make you a champion.
After a win Nadal will applaud an opponent who is leaving the court and Novak Djokovic has started to do that as well but not one person I know, or one article I read gave Serena Williams any sort of positive comment after her loss to Lisicki at Wimbledon this year for her graciousness.
That result would have been killing Serena but after she had packed up her things she waited by Lisicki’s chair till the German was ready and walked off court at the same time. That was class.
Days later when Aga Radwanska lost to Lisicki in the semifinals she walked off court on her own. The Polish player was asked why she didn’t wait. She said: “Should I just be there and dance? What could I do? I mean, I didn't feel like that at that point.”
After the Wimbledon men’s final Djokovic was asked to stay on court and do a lap of honour with the runner-up trophy, he refused. Absolutely you can understand that he was gutted at losing but he should have stayed. It would have been a mark of further respect to Andy Murray. It was not as if Novak had never won the title before and he just had to get out of there.
Tennis players need to remember they are role models, whether they like it or not.
The words from Rudyard Kipling’s immortal poem “If” at Wimbledon should be a reminder to all players …
“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same”