The Game of Tennis holds many Surprises


The image I picked challenges one of the biggest stereotypes in the game of tennis: that tennis is an easy sport. In this image, we see a green background, with two white lines, and a net at the bottom of the picture, which all represent a tennis court. In the middle of the photo, we see Roger Federer (one of the greatest tennis players of all time) lunging his legs while swinging a tennis racket in a variety of  positions. At the top of the image, there is a text that reads: “Tweezer and toothpick not included.” Looking more descriptively into this photo, the tennis player could be described as having very muscular calves. He could also be seen as pretty flexible, since he is hitting/reaching for a tennis ball in many unorthodox positions. By viewing this photo in a more analytical way, we see that this witty nike advertisement holds a deeper meaning than what meets the eye.

This advertisement is comparing Roger Federer to something like a pocket knife, because a pocket knife has many tools, which resembles Federer and all his different strokes. In this photo, Federer is portraying several of the shots used in tennis while standing in one spot. This image challenges the commonly heard stereotype that tennis is an easy sport, by showing how there are so many different elements in tennis. The cultural message that is being portrayed in this image is that tennis is a very complex sport that requires a tremendous amount of skill and athleticism. Many people state that tennis only requires skill and takes little physical training, but in this photo we see Federer using his athletic/balanced body to lunge for a shot and hit whatever stroke needed.

Another factor that makes tennis a difficult sport is that you don’t know what shot you’re going to hit, until about two seconds before hitting it. Tennis is all about quick reflexives and quick muscle reaction. The Average serve speed of a tennis player is about 120-130 mph, so the returning player has no time to think about what stroke (forehand or backhand) he/she is going to hit, they just use their instincts or reflexives to hit the shot.   In this image, the multiple strokes Federer is doing represents how quick and instinctive a tennis player has to be, in order to be successful at tennis. There are so many strokes in tennis, from serves, to forehands and backhands, to volleys, to slices and drop shots, that add to the difficulty of tennis. In order to hit all these strokes at a professional level, you must spend years and years working on muscle memory. Tennis players must use their quick thinking to make the best shot selection at certain moment, at a particular place on the court. In this Youtube clip, you see all the various shots these two players use with little time to react after each stroke.

In order to be successful at the game of tennis, it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. The cultural ideology that is implanted into people’s mind is that tennis is an easy sport, but in reality, it is the exact opposite. This Nike Advertisement is a perfect example of a counter-argument to the stereotype of tennis being an easy sport.

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1 Response to The Game of Tennis holds many Surprises

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Where do you see this ideology that tennis is easy coming from? I’d never thought of tennis in that way, and would like to better understand how you see this idea propagated. I understand that you have encountered it in your own life, but why do you think that is? Coming back to the image, this idea of a tennis player being a pocket knife is fascinating and worth thinking about more. Does this imply that he is ready for anything? That his arm is not actually one thing but a variety of tools? Is it objectifying, since it is actually comparing him to an object? If not, why? What about that fact that he looks a bit monstrous with so many arms?

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