Tennis Prose



Is Rage A Part Of Tennis?

One of Gulbis’ broken Wilsons. He broke two on Monday.

By Scoop Malinowski

Tennis is a sport composed of a diverse range of attributes including elegance, athleticism, speed, timing, anticipation, tactics, intelligence, will to win, joy, passion. And also one element that is rarely discussed. Rage.

Recently I was talking with a friend Behn Wilson, who was an NHL defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks from 1978-1988. He mentioned respect for one of his toughest rivals Willi Plett, who he fought eight or nine times in epic heavyweight fist fights on the ice, and admiration for how Plett “played with a rage.”

Check out the rage of Behn Wilson in this NHL fight vs Tiger Williams link

This revelation by one of the greatest fighters in NHL history provoked me to wonder if rage applies to tennis. And quickly I surmised yes it does. Instant examples popped into my mind – Federer’s smashing his racquet at Miami Open vs Nadal. McEnroe’s tantrums and umpire arguments at Wimbledon. McEnroe’s reported destruction of the new locker room at UCLA after a senior match loss with over $10,000 in damages. Shapovalov firing a ball at the chair umpire’s face. Serena threatening a chair umpire and lineswoman with bodily harm at US Open. Even the noted stoic Bjorn Borg once said he hated anybody he played. There have been countless physical confrontation by players on and off court.

Yes amidst all the glamour, glory, elegance and aesthetic artistry, rage is a small part of tennis.

But I wanted official affirmation so I asked two former ATP top 100 players if they thought rage is a part of tennis?

The first player answered with a laugh, “Everybody has a breaking point.” When I asked him for an example of the most rage he ever witnessed on a tennis court, he said, “So many similar cases of players having a kind of self destruction moment.”

So when I mentioned that McEnroe wrecked a new UCLA locker room with $10,000 of damages, he said, “I am sure plenty of hotel rooms needed to be refurbished also.”

The second player also agreed rage is a part of tennis: “Yes. A lot of anger inside. Anger can be a powerful fuel but also sabotage.”

So there you have it. Rage is indeed a part of tennis. Always has been and always will be. And it adds to the overall theater of the wondrous action performed by the greatest athletes in the world, in their quest for tennis excellence and near perfection.

Behn Wilson Biofile interview link

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  • Sam · March 25, 2024 at 9:21 pm

    It seems that rage is the latest rage. 😾 😏

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 26, 2024 at 12:33 pm

    Sam, it’s an emotion that is rarely explored, but it’s a significant part of the sport. The maddest players rarely talk about it or are asked about it.



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