'Quiet please': Is it time for tennis crowds to make some noise?

·Contributor
·3-min read
Tennis star John Millman (pictured) playing at the Australian Open.
Should tennis follow other sporting codes and allow fans to make noise at any stage during a match? (Getty Images)

OPINION

Picture these two scenes.

Adam Reynolds is lining up the sideline conversion to potentially push South Sydney into extra-time in the 2021 grand final when he stops at the end of his run and stands with hands on hips.

"Ref, I'm not taking the kick until you get those Penrith fans to shut-up and stop waving their arms around," he tells Gerard Sutton.

'I'M GOING TO CRY': Aussie shakes up Aus Open in ousting teen star

INSANE: Epic Rafa Nadal detail during rival Aus Open match

'UNDER REVIEW': Sponsor's telling move amid Novak Djokovic saga

"I can’t focus."

England opener Zak Crawley pulls away from the crease because the mob at the old Bay 13 are fast-clapping and hollering as Mitchell Starc prepares to deliver a 145km/h thunderbolt in the first over of an Ashes Test.

"Ump, how am I supposed to concentrate with all this racket going on?" Crawley complains to Paul Reiffel.

The above hypotheticals are all played out in high frenzy, high pressure situations where the crowd does it best to put the opposition off with a cacophony of noise and movement.

Try silencing the Kop as an opposition player attempts a spot kick at Anfield or putting your finger to your lips and asking for quiet when LeBron James steps up for a free throw against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Every visiting player accepts home crowd hostility as part of the game.

There's no use complaining. It's just part of the deal.

But in tennis, for some reason, it's different.

Strict rules apply over crowd noise, with fans ordered into silence should they dare raise the volume level above a sleep-deprived parent retreating from a snoozing baby's bedroom.

If you as much as sneeze during a player's serve, you may be taken out the back and shot.

"Ladies and gentlemen, quiet please," is a common warning from the chair umpire.

And we all do as we're told.

Why must tennis have silence during play?

Tennis players can be a precious lot and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez made his feelings known as he went down to local favourite John Millman in the first round of the Australian Open.

Lopez approached the chair umpire to complain about crowd noise during his serve before confronting the unruly spectators, asking them "why? why? why?" with an angry shrug of the shoulders.

"There are a few people who have a long day in the sun and they're getting around Millman," courtside commentator Dylan Alcott reported.

Fan reacts as they receive a warning from the chair umpire for yelling during play in the first round singles match between John Millman and Feliciano Lopez during day one of the 2022 Australian Open.
Fan reacts as they receive a warning from the chair umpire for yelling during play in the first round singles match between John Millman and Feliciano Lopez during day one of the 2022 Australian Open. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Lopez was within his rights to complain – under the sport's quaint etiquette - but why must we have silence in tennis at all?

There is no strict rule in the official laws forbidding noise and no-one seems to have a definitive answer as to why spectators are expected to remain mute for large slabs of a match.

The best they can come up with is it's because the sport was originally played in small rooms in front of royalty and it would have been unseemly to allow noise.

In other words, it's the way we've always done things and we're not about to change.

It's a cute but out-dated notion and a little out of touch with modern sport.

The noisy minority has spoken.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting