Why do Some Tennis Players Bite Their Trophies?

Why does Rafael Nadal Bite into His Trophies?

Wondered why tennis players bite into their trophies, or at times, their medals after winning the tournament? This article gives you a rundown about the reasons why some tennis stars do that.

You’re probably used to seeing athletes in the Olympics bite their medals on the podium.

Some tennis players have engaged in this act; as we see in several Grand Slams and ATP & WTA tournaments, some players bite their medals or trophies after receiving them on the podium.

This must have caused you to wonder why they do it. A trip back in time will help us understand how this started. Here’s a list of possible reasons why…

Tennis Players Bite into Their Winning Trophies

Tradition

Biting into shiny gold objects is an ancient tradition which dates back to the early merchants.

Merchants back in the day would bite on coins to be sure the coins weren’t lead forgeries. This practice was necessary then because gold was made harder by alloying it with other harder metals.

Gold is a soft metal, and the human teeth are naturally stronger than it and will leave marks if used to bite on pure gold.

Biting gold was an easy way for the merchants to know if the gold was fake. Though the objective may be different, the practice of biting gold is still seen today during medal award ceremonies, and tennis tournaments are not left out.

Tennis is traditionally known to be a sport for ladies and gentlemen. The closing pleasantries at the end of a tennis game further highlight this. Tennis players shake hands, exchange pleasantries, and if it is the last match in a tournament, the winner receives and kisses the trophy.

In earlier times, the practice required hard work and diligence from tennis players. Trophy kissing, when won, was a sign of victory and compensation for all the efforts put in.

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Habit

Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam title in 2005. He famously had a bite on the trophy, and when asked why, he said it was a joke.

The Spaniard has gone on to win many more Grand Slam titles (20+ at last count!), ATP tournaments, and other titles in which he bit the trophy each time. Something that started as a joke has become a habit and has been adopted by other players over time.

To Please the Press

In a press meeting held during the 2018 Davis Cup, Nadal, when asked why he always bit his trophy, responded;

“The truth is that it all started as a joke. But from then on, there were always photographers asking me to do it. I have continued doing it, and now I have no option but to keep doing so.”

The response made it known that the media was enjoying it.

There has been increased pressure on Nadal from photographers to take a shot while biting the trophy. Photographers have urged other players to bite the trophy while posing for the camera.

Obviously, this pose has been widely accepted and pleasing to the media.

A Shift From the Norm

Biting the trophy has been interpreted as a shift away from the tradition of kissing the trophy. Some other players have adopted it too. Italian tennis player Sara Errani was captured on camera biting the trophy when she won the Rio Open.

The game of tennis has evolved over the years, and the way players celebrate victory has changed too. Some have made their styles unique. Nadal has succeeded in moving away from the tradition of kissing the trophy.

Biting the trophy has been adopted by other players, and it’s here to stay.

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Risks Involved with Biting the Trophy

Public health statements have made it clear that wearing jewelry made of silver or gold, and eating with silver-coated or gold-coated cutlery, is not expected to result in depositing silver or gold in the body.

The Wimbledon trophy, one of the most prestigious in tennis, is made of silver-gilt. Silver-gilt is a term used to describe gold plated silver. The trophy consists of silver but appears like solid gold.

Biting a trophy is not considered a harmful practice. Exposure to daily use of silver and gold will not result in the deposition of these metals in the body. Likewise, the trophy biting by tennis players will not expose them to any harm.

Final Words on Why Do Some Tennis Players Bite Their Trophies

The biggest reason why tennis players in general and Nadal in particular bites into his winning trophy is out of sheer habit, stemming from a tradition that dates back centuries ago where merchants used to bite on gold to check for its authenticity.

Press photographers have also encouraged this habit over the years which has resulted in biting trophies becoming a deeper-routed routine than it has ever been.

Stan Boone

I am the editor of Racket Sports World. I love my tennis, pickleball and most of the other racket sports played around the world and started this blog as my way to help other racquet sports fans even as I learn, explore and improve by connecting with them. Tweet at https://twitter.com/StanBooneTennis.

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