How to stop players’ grunting and fist pumping at Wimbledon

Perhaps they should be made to dress like Gandhi, so that they play in a more serene state of mind
Image of David Tang

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

Are the players at Wimbledon getting into bad habits with their grunts and fist pumps? Should they be stopped, or is this another sign of modern life which we must embrace?

I regard the escalating gestures on the part of players at Wimbledon as ugly, uncouth, vulgar and unpleasant. First there were the grunts. Monica Seles and Jimmy Connors were the Adam and Eve of grunts. Then the courts got noisier with the Williams sisters. Maria Sharapova, the Russian blonde, made it surround sound with her grunting, groaning, growling and squawking. Then Novak Djokovic, with his vibrating Adam’s apple, turned the volume up to the highest decibel. Not only that, he was a champion of facial contortions and fist throwing. With others, Wimbledon has become a breeding ground for primeval behaviour, with players who appear too egotistical to remember that they are engaged in a sport that demands sportsmanship. Punching your fist in the air, or with an elbow arched at a right angle that moves to and fro like a speeding train, is a way of expressing supreme self-satisfaction and, sadly, contempt for your opponent, which is bad sportsmanship. The scene gets ugliest when a player screws up their mouth like Popeye popping spinach into his gob, and we, the television spectators, are treated to the sight of the inside of their mouth, with a Giant’s Causeway of bad teeth and a slimy tongue twisting inside a reddening-pink labyrinth of bubbling anger. The whole experience of seeing such unsportsmanlike gesticulations spoils not only the dignity of Wimbledon, still thankfully without adverts in the arena, but also the genteel neighbourhood surrounding it.

Perhaps players should be officially told to desist from all inelegant and unsavoury behaviour, and to demonstrate a modicum of humbleness. Perhaps they should be made to dress like Gandhi, so that they play in a more serene state of mind. If players were asked to wear sandals, they might think twice about stomping their feet in dejection.

Some time ago I accepted with alacrity an invitation to spend a few days in France with David Cameron’s in-laws. The problem is I am an international art dealer and image is part of my brand. My clients like to deal with a “player”, and being seen in fashionable company is important. Do you think that now the UK prime minister has resigned I should reconsider my holiday plans?

I think Michael Gove might be more qualified than me to give you advice on this. Having said that, you seem to be the kind of person who wouldn’t want to pass up on taking advantage of a special situation. Since people who are affected adversely by fait accompli are usually resigned and “couldn’t care less any more”, your hosts might well volunteer interesting gossip and indiscretions that you might not otherwise obtain. Therefore, you should definitely carry on with your holidays with the in-laws if only to pick up all the titbits. Considering the present circumstances, you might even find yourself holidaying with David and Samantha Cameron. After all, they couldn’t have expected, even two weeks ago, to be turfed out of No. 10 so soon, and they might now welcome an unplanned holiday. So you could yet benefit from being in the company of a retiring PM who would still hold a residual crispness of being fashionable.

You wrote that you’d hate to be “soaked in vinegar”, but do you know that apple cider vinegar is an organic way to keep one’s skin fresh and supple? It balances skin pH and contains malic acid which makes it a good defence against bacteria and fungus. Since it is also rich in minerals, Sylvester Stallone recommends two tablespoons a day.

When was the last time you saw Sylvester Stallone’s face? I saw it not so long ago, and must confess it reminded me of the Grand Canyon. Perhaps the Rocky star should consider increasing his daily consumption from two tablespoonfuls to two barrelfuls.

You mention malic acid, which is of course a derivation of the Latin word for apple: malum. But you also ought to know that malic acid is used in sweets intended to be extra sour. In the UK, I am sure it is used in Sour Skittles, my favourite sweet in the world because they are dramatically sour. I always keep a packet in my car because they wake you up if you feel sleepy driving.

Please post comments and questions at the end of this article, or email david.tang@ft.com

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.