The chants, cheers, boos, and applause. When it comes to live sporting events, it’s easy to picture the massive crowd and lots of noise. Ask any sports fan or player, and they’ll say it adds value to the experience — and that can’t be matched while viewing the same event on the television.
But not all sports want or appreciate that much audience participation. Tennis is one of the exceptions that demands silence from its audience. But why? Why tone down the support and excitement for your favorite athlete?
An Unwritten Rule
It’s a phrase you’ll hear at any tennis match. “Quiet, please.” Silence among tennis spectators, while well established, is not an official rule. Over the years, tennis has developed a set of unspoken customs, many of which you won’t find in a rulebook, but are taken seriously by a worldwide community of tennis players.
Even though not everyone abides by these unspoken rules, your awareness and support help the sport retain its positive and courteous culture, which is part of what makes tennis unique.
The Importance of Etiquette & Tradition
The first spectators of tennis matches were aristocrats. Kings and nobles would watch as their sons or relatives rallied the ball — for honor and for sport. It was a noble game, which required noble etiquette. While a match was on, silence was expected because those present to watch would likely be in the presence of the King, who no one should ever speak before without his permission.
Over time, this tradition stuck. As a spectator attending a competitive tennis match, either amateur or professional, you’re expected to follow unspoken etiquette. Staying quiet is the most common form of etiquette broken by spectators because it’s not typical of any other major sporting events, and it’s natural to want to get involved. However, if you’re talking or making noise, don’t be surprised if another spectator asks you to quiet down.
Stay Quiet During Points
If you’re watching a tennis match, you shouldn’t talk or make any noises during a point, so neither player is distracted and both can focus. It’s the umpire’s job to help control a rowdy crowd, so don’t be surprised if you hear that renowned phrase “Quiet, please,” at that time. You may also see a player pause for a moment before they serve to encourage the crowd to become silent.
Can You Ever Cheer or Applaud?
Although you should remain quiet during play, there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from cheering and clapping for a specific player or an excellent point.However, you shouldn’t do so until the point is over. That means you should be sure there’s no way a player can return a fair ball placed in bounds before beginning to cheer.
Just Sit Back and Enjoy the Game
Although it may seem like a lot to ask, for the most part, tennis etiquette just about common sense and good manners. Give the players the quiet they’ve learned to play with, and just enjoy the game!