Tennis?! What an easy sport…

Since I first started playing tennis, I’ve constantly heard degrading stereotypes about the sport and the players. There are so many stereotypes about tennis/tennis players that have circulated because of non-tennis players starting these stereotypes. One huge stereotype about tennis is that a lot of people consider it as an easy sport. Every time I mentioned the word tennis to my friends at school, they would basically laugh at my face explaining how it shouldn’t even be considered a sport.  They would say that tennis shouldn’t be a sport because there is no physical contact. However, there are MANY sports that don’t have physical contact and are still considered sports. This stereotype also led to gender stereotypes in tennis, and how tennis is a “girl sport.”

First of all, I believe there is no such thing as a “girl sport;” A sport can be played by any gender. People refer to tennis as a “girl sport” because they believe it is an easy sport to be good at, but that is far from the truth.  Growing up hearing all these things was so aggravating because they are so ridiculous and so untrue, and sadly a large population of people believe in these stereotypes. In order to be successful at tennis, you must have the mind of a chess player, the endurance of a long-distance runner, the agility of a sprinter, and the strength of a weightlifter. Tennis is also one of the only individual sports out there. In a sport like basketball, if you have a bad blister or aren’t feeling 100%, you can be subbed in by another player. However in tennis, you are the only person out there and you can’t rely on anyone else for help, which requires a great amount of mental strength.

I have challenged these stereotypes by proving that in order to be successful in tennis, you have to put in a lot of hard-work. I would train on the court 4-5 hours and 2 hours in the gym everyday, 7 days a week, and yet there were still many guys better. There have been so many incidents where I’ve been injured and wanted to quit, but I toughed it out.


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2 Responses to Tennis?! What an easy sport…

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    How do you know that these stereotypes were started by non-tennis players? It sounds as if you are implying that if they played the sport, they would know these are not true. This is interesting, since it privileges what I would call ’embodied knowledge’ of the sport. Embodied knowledge is a category of knowing that comes to live in our bodies via lived experience.

    I’m curious as to under what conditions you are experiencing people telling you tennis is a “girl’s” sport, since there are some quite aggressive masculine popular images of tennis players. Even within women’s tennis, we see this, most acutely in the coverage and play of the Williams sisters. It’s also worth examining more closely why and how “girl’s” sports get labeled (unfairly) as easy.

    One avenue worth exploring to understand this further is the gendered history of tennis. Tennis is one of the few sports where women experience some gender parity in terms of coverage, resources, sponsors, and prize money. This due in large part to the work of early tennis players such as Billie Jean King. I’d suggest looking this up, and her match against Bobby Riggs. Is it possible that the gendered stereotypes of tennis stem from the very fact that women are treated as closer to equals of male players?

    • Anon says:

      Tennis is considered a girl sport at my highschool, it’s the 21st century and trust me it doesn’t have anything to do with gender equality.

      Tennis in women is not even close to guys, guys are shown more and win more money and play more tennis. Women don’t even come close, and if we are being fair, they dont exactly deserve it either. Women don’t have to be as technically sound to be in the top tier of tennis, a broken serve that makes it to 98 mph at best is enough to get you into the top 100 if you are consistent from the baseline where in mens you have to be at the highest technical level.

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