If you are an avid tennis fan, you probably must have heard the chair umpire, especially in very boisterous matches, asking for quiet before a match serve is made. The most common line used is, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please be quiet. The players are ready, thank you”.
Why are tennis crowds expected to be quiet?
Also, when the points are played, the audience is expected to keep quiet, with applause and cheers coming up at the closing of the point, although you may experience brief cheers at intervals when a player exhibits an absolutely fantastic play.
Tennis spectators have a long and, above all, rigorous custom of silence. It is nevertheless intriguing to ponder why two tennis professionals must compete in silence.
Have you thought critically about why the audience in tennis matches should maintain the silence? Let’s, therefore, get a deeper look at where these traditions came from. Let’s look at…
Why do Tennis Crowds Need to be Quiet?
Sound is a Tactical Factor
Most of the top tennis professionals reckon sound is one of the ways they discern the kind of shot they need to respond to.
In an article in New York Times, various players like Andy Murray and Martina Navratilova spoke about the importance of being able to hear the ball hitting the opponent’s racket.
The nine-time Wimbledon winner, Navratilova said:
“You really depend on hearing the ball being hit, particularly when you are at the net.”
“You first hear the ball. Then you react to the speed and spin according to the sound. And when you can’t hear it, it really throws you off. I did miss some volleys there because I didn’t hear the ball.”
Which is why, if the crowds aren’t quiet during points, there’s always that possibility of players getting put off by the noise drowning the on-court sounds.
In that same piece Murray admitted to getting distracted by the rain falling on Arthur Ashe Stadium roof because it did not allow him to pick up the speed and the spin on the ball by sound.
“We use our ears when we play; it’s not just the eyes. It helps us pick up the speed of the ball, the spin that’s on the ball, how hard someone’s hitting it.”
Tennis is a Noble Game
It was an aristocratic game that demanded noble behavior. During a match, silence was expected because people watching would probably be watching in the king’s presence, where no one should ever speak without his consent.
This custom became established over time.
Doesn’t The Noise From Audience Boost The Sporting Atmosphere?
You’d assume so because supporters at the U.S. Open are a little rowdier than at the majors like the Wimbledon.
Most athletes may claim that they derive a boost from a noisy audience that applauds and cheer them. Suppose you’ve ever watched footage of high profile matches, like the Jimmy Connors’ fascinating run to the U.S. Open semifinals in 1991.
In that case, you’ll see that the noise from the audience had a significant impact on the outcome and intensity of that match. However, traditions in tennis, indeed, are traditions.
Historical Tradition In Tennis
As at the time tennis first gained popularity, the earliest spectators were members of the British elite. The king and other royals would watch their relatives play the game for family and personal pleasure.
Understandably, the etiquette of such a game would be complex because it was a sport among the noble.
There was an expectation that people would keep quiet during the match since it was possible the king or queen would be present – and nobody was supposed to speak while the king or queen was present. It was royal etiquette that no person could speak before the British king or queen without their permission.
Over time, this tradition simply stuck. If you attend a competitive tennis match, whether amateur or professional, you should watch quietly.
The rule is broken often because spectators don’t know about it, and getting excited during a suspenseful match is natural. A spectator may ask fellow spectators to stay mute if they are speaking or generating other kinds of noise during a competitive tennis match.
Is This Tradition Observed in Other Sports?
Sitting quietly and waiting until the game is over seems almost counterintuitive. Since tennis isn’t only a game of athletic ability, it also requires skill.
Tennis is a game that most of us want to watch live, and we will likely root for a particular player to win. All sports have their customs that spectators observe.
There is a similar expectation in golf that the fans stay mute while the golfer prepares and executes a shot. Similarly, during a tennis match, the umpire will demand that the spectators stay quiet before every shot.
Observers are expected to remain quiet during play in both golf and tennis, as both of these sports require significant levels of personal concentration.
Compared to other sports, like basketball, this makes a noticeable difference.
While you might consider “sports” something that involves players trying to make free throws against backdrops of giant pictures of players’ heads, waving color patterns, and other visually stunning backdrops.
At the same time, the crowd yells as loudly as possible, and it might seem like much more drama than you think.
Are There Other Sports With Unique Weird Traditions?
As a sports fan, indeed, you have ever considered the origin of some rules or traditions that, at first, may seem absurd. However, we must say that many of them have an explanation, just like the tennis silence tradition.
Therefore, to feed your curiosity, we will share some other sporting traditions and explain their origin:
American Football Players Paint Their Faces
The first record dates back to 1942 when some Washington Redskins players painted black grease under their eyes. The original idea is believed to have come from Andy Farkas. From then onwards, the black lines stopped being a crazy bet and became, little by little, a tradition within the NFL.
Known as the eye black, these black spots are now seen in every game and on almost every player in the North American league. It is a combination of beeswax and pigments that, beyond an intimidating decoration, has an underlying reason that makes it more useful.
The eye black offers a competitive advantage. Its presence helps reduce the glare emanating from the sun’s rays or the lighting of the stadiums since the dark pigment is responsible for absorbing light.
Golf Courses Have 18 Holes
Tradition has it that the reason golf has 18 holes is related to the whiskey that fits into a flask.
In ancient Scotland, golfers drank a shot of whiskey after finishing each hole, and each of those shots corresponded to the amount of whiskey that fit in the flask stopper. It is emptied after exactly 18 caps.
Baseball Players Chew Tobacco While Playing
In 1850, when baseball fanaticism first began to spread across the US, no one knew about the harmful effects of tobacco. Early on, baseball players began chewing tobacco because it kept their mouths moist, and they used the saliva from the tobacco to soften their gloves.
In Tennis, It Is Highly Crucial to Stay Mute
If you are watching a competitive tennis match, be sure not to talk or make any other noises. It is done to avoid both players becoming distracted from the game so that they can concentrate on it instead.
In addition to making game decisions, Umpires are also responsible for keeping the crowd in check.
As a result, the umpire occasionally says, “Quiet, please.”. You may have also noticed that if the crowd is noisy during a serve, the player whose turn is to serve will stop for the audience to keep quiet before continuing the play to avoid distractions.
There you have it, we’ve outlined the reason why tennis spectators have to be quiet at tennis matches and the history behind this tradition. So, next time you attend a tennis match, please observe peace and quietness.