Breaking a racquet out of anger or frustration is a common sight in tennis, both on the men and women's tours. They normally get a code violation or monetary fine for doing so, sometimes both.

I can understand wanting to punish players for damaging the court surface or the venue, but why do they still get penalized if they, for example, bend and break the racquet against their knee? Like this https://www.tennisworldusa.org/tennis/videos/Tennis_Stories/56756/stan-wawrinka-breaks-racket-through-knee/

The reason for the code violation is usually labeled as "racquet abuse", so it seems like they don't care how the racquet is broken, but only that it is broken.

Why do they only penalize racquet abuse? Why does the tournament care how a player treats their own equipment? What if, for example, the player rips their clothing out of frustration? As long as they aren't harming anyone or damaging the tournament property, why do they care?

1 Answer 1


Tennis, like most sports, has a formal code of conduct to which players are supposed to adhere. Tennis is their profession, and they need to act like professionals - breaking your racquet in a fit of anger is not very professional. The equivalent from other sports would be a footballer kicking the ball away after conceding a free kick (which is a yellow-card offence), or a hockey player snapping his stick in half. The non-sporting equivalent would be a Starbucks employee realising they someone's order wrong and hurling the cup across the room - pretty sure they'd be fired on the spot for that.

Why do they only penalize racquet abuse?

They don't; racquet abuse just happens to be the most common offence (on the mens' tour, anyway). Here's a table of the fines racked up at the four majors between 1998 and 2018:

Fine                    | Men | Women
Racket Abuse            | 646 |  99
Audible Obscenity       | 344 | 140
Unsportsmanlike Conduct | 287 |  67
Coaching                |  87 | 152
Ball Abuse              |  50 |  35
Verbal Abuse            |  62 |  16
Visible Obscenity       |  20 |  11
No Press                |   6 |  10
Time Violations         |   7 |   3
Best Effort             |   2 |   0
Default                 |   3 |   0
Doubles Attire          |   2 |   1
Late For Match          |   1 |   1
First Round Retirement  |   2 |   0

What if, for example, the player rips their clothing out of frustration?

I imagine that would be covered under "unsportsmanlike conduct" (or possibly "visible obscenity" depending on their gender and/or what clothing they rip). At Wimbledon, which famously enforces a very strict dress code, they could potentially be thrown out entirely, as the dress code mandates "common standards of decency".

  • Kicking the ball away is penalised because it is unsporting behaviour regardless of the level, not because it is unprofessional to do so.
    – Nij
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 0:20
  • The Starbucks analogy doesn't really work in my opinion, since they created a mess and now someone has to clean it up. Bending a racquet against your knee and snapping it doesn't cause a mess. All the player has to do is stick the broken racquet back in their bag/throw it away, and pull out a new one. It doesn't cause any harm or inconvenience to anyone else.
    – DeeeFoo
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 0:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.