Do you know the reason behind Wimbledon’s insistence that all tournament competitors wear only white clothing? I naively thought it was so that they matched the white tennis balls. The real intent was to protect the reputation of the ladies who played the sport. As perspiration was not viewed as a very ladylike trait, The All England Lawn And Tennis Club instituted a rule requiring that all players, men and women, wear only white clothing because it was observed to be the best color at disguising any dampness.
I admire that this requirement is seen more as a tradition and has held steady throughout the decades. Seeing the men and women dressed in their pristine white attire during the fortnight at Wimbledon evokes nostalgia of a time when society was much more formal and the effort toward acting ladylike was held in high regard.
The ladies I know from the tennis court are certainly ladies. And seeing them play in all-white attire, especially as a team, is truly a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, it only happens on the rare occasion these days. Maybe because white is a difficult color to maintain or that white is not very slimming. It's most likely because fashion and culture have taken us in a different direction. Whatever the reason, I feel that once we got away from the tradition of “tennis whites” our behavior became much more colorful on the court as well.
Through my years of playing tennis, I have noticed that even the most “ladylike” lady may have some decidedly unladylike habits. Some, surprisingly are also very open to talking about subjects which most 8 year old boys would find amusing. Yes, it’s true, unfortunately. I’ll only hit the highlights and try not to go into too much detail . . . I promise.
Let’s start off easy. My friend, Ruth, (you know her, she's the one who speaks the truth), told me the story about her last singles match. Her opponent was new to tennis but obviously extremely fit and athletic looking. And, in fact, she was a former professional volleyball player. Ruth, all 5’4” of her, knew she was in for a treat. But, thankfully, she is a quick study and found that her opponent’s lateral movement was not all that great. Plus, she realized that if she kept her playing out wide for the most part, her opponent would spit closer to the perimeter fence than onto the court. So that’s how Ruth beat her and avoided stepping in her mucus.
Then there was the time I was playing a match. As we walked from our respective ends of the court to switch sides, I spied one of our opponents haul off with a doozie of a farmer blow! Do you know what this is?! It’s commonly used while the farmer is out in the field tending to his crop, far from view of anyone for whom he has even the slightest respect. He seals off the unaffected nostril by pushing it closed with his index finger, extends his head forward to keep even his dirt-soiled overalls from becoming even more defiled, while he blows through the other nostril thus expelling any obstruction or nasal discharge. That’s what my opponent did! And she added an adamant wipe of her nose with the back of her hand to remove any lingering remnants. I did not shake her hand after the match. I patted her on the back instead.
It is a well-known fact that once a woman has given birth without the aid of a surgeon, containing the urge to, let’s say, go #1, becomes increasingly difficult. The last thing you want to do is hold it until the last minute. While you might think you’ll only have to simply trot off to the restroom to relieve yourself, you never know what obstacles might lie in your way making that trot more of a barrel race.
Just as her team took a break from drills, Hilary headed toward the restroom knowing that she was on the brink of exploding. But before she even got to the baseline, in came her teammate, Sissy, late for practice, a boisterous handful of a woman. She busted onto the court and broadcasted her salutation, “What’s up, HOOKERS?!” That sent the team howling and Hilary doubled over, laughing as she crossed her legs and sent up a quick prayer, “Oh, dear God, help me!” Her contorted body, coupled with her hysteria and knowing where she was headed quickly caught the team’s attention and the laughter grew exponentially. She collected herself, blowing out through her mouth and inhaling through her nose, pushed out her belly as far as it could go to relieve any pressure on her bladder and made as graceful an exit as possible only leaving behind a few detectable drops.
Do you remember this book? You may have read it to your kids or your parents may have read to you to aid in the potty-training process. It’s called Everybody Poops. Well…it’s true and ladies do too.
It was a USTA State Championship weekend and the first morning everyone met for breakfast in the hotel lobby. The conversation quickly became a comparison of each other’s morning routines. All were pretty similar but, on this particular day, not all were regular. She tried “to go" at the slightest of urges but to no avail. She was getting jealous each time one of her teammates excused herself from the breakfast table. One even claiming that she only plays tennis because the nerves keep her “regular”. On her last try before heading out to their first match, she ran into her teammate, Karen, who was just exiting the restroom. “Woo, girl!” she exclaimed as she pinched her nose. Raising her hand in the air, she confessed, “Guilty as charged! Sorry!” Not wanting to experience whatever trauma Karen may have inflicted on the restroom, she retreated to the bus leaving for the courts.
Anxious that her game was going to suffer if she was not successful in getting things “moving”, she had a second cup of coffee to see if it might remedy the situation. One last ditched effort, she headed off to the restroom. Several minutes later, she emerged looking quite defeated. “Any luck?” asked a teammate. She shrugged her shoulders and shook her head, “I think I just gave myself a hemorrhoid in exchange for a couple of measly nuggets.”
So, it seems as the world of tennis progressed, our conversation became more candid and our behavior, more colorful. Both appropriately matching our summer neons, bold patterns and form fitting activewear. We evolved and so did our behavior. It’s just how the world is these days.
Unladylike? Maybe. Acceptable? Sometimes, in the right company. Excusable? Sure, why not. Flawed? Decidedly, no. Besides,
whose got the time to clean grass stains from tennis whites anyway?
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