Addressing Abuse in Tennis


The legal scandal with the involvement of Larry Nassar has had a drastic influence not only on gymnastics but on the world of sports in general. During the investigation, it was revealed that multiple people were involved in the sexual abuse of girls and women under the guise of medical treatment, which made the problem even more complex than it had already been (The Associated Press).

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The issue of sexual abuse in tennis has not been as important as it is today, especially with the breakout stories associated with the physical abuse of Jelena Dokic by her father as well as Mirjana Lucic and Timea Bacsinszky who have candidly spoken about the harsh treatment to which they were subjected (Mewshaw). Because of these stories, considering reforms that the United States Tennis Association (USTA) can implement is fundamental.

Emotional Abuse

Safeguarding tennis players against persistent emotional maltreatment is the first step toward reducing the risks of sexual abuse. A specific policy addressing the fair emotional treatment of players should be developed.

Parents and/or coaches should be prohibited from putting players down, belittling them for losing the match, and using verbal assaults to make them feel worthless or inadequate. Instances of emotional abuse in the court should be recorded by independent observers and submitted to the relevant bodies for review and consideration. Specific violations include “references to sexual functioning, references to deities when associated with curses, traditional fighting words, ethnic or racial slurs, references to sexual orientation, and so on” (USTA 25).

Minor violations can be managed by verbal warning while more severe cases will imply legal action. This specific reform is important for ensuring that the court is a positive environment in which the sport is nurtured. Taking legal action against those coaches and parents who belittle players can be a preventative measure for reducing the risk of physical and sexual abuse. In the case when coaches or parents violate the established policy prohibiting emotional and verbal abuse when playing tennis, legal action should be taken not only for making them develop appropriate behaviors but also to ensure the well-being of players who require to develop not only physical but also mental endurance.

Physical Abuse

Any form of physical abuse including hitting, poisoning, suffocating, scalding, shaking, and other acts that can cause harm to a player must be prohibited. These acts can occur if a player loses his or her match, and their parent and/or coach may exhibit signs of physical abuse to express their frustration. A guideline that will include specific regulations on how to prevent the physical maltreatment of players in the court.

For example, when a player is subjected to abusive or threatening behavior from parents, coaches, other players, and even spectators, he or she should seek support from the management of the venue. At each match, a USTA safe and inclusive team will have to be present in the case of calling the Police if appropriate.

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Minor occurrences of physical abuse can be managed with the help of warnings, and tickets. If the abuse takes place frequently and causes severe physical injuries to victims, legal actions should be taken. Abusers should be prosecuted according to the laws of the state in which they are tried, and an appropriate punishment measure should be determined. Individuals put on probation should be removed from the court setting, and the well-being of players should be monitored carefully. In addition, the victims of abuse should receive psychological treatment because physical abuse is usually accompanied by verbal mistreatment.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual abuse in the context of the tennis court implies enticing or forcing a player to participate in intimate activities, not necessarily with the help of extreme violence. When players are young and do not understand the concept of consent, they may not be aware of the fact that sexual abuse is taking place. Identifying signs of abuse such as bruises in strange locations, players disclosing that they may have been subjected to sexual abuse, coaches or other adults inappropriately touching or kissing a player. Establishing a policy of no sexual relationships between coaches and players may not help because players can be of the age of consent and agree to have such relationships.

A regulation that encourages players to report any instances of inappropriate behavior in regards to them to relevant authorities. A USTA hotline and a website should be created in order to receive calls and messages from players who were subjected to sexual abuse. The line should guarantee complete anonymity to protect the privacy of victims while also reporting the cases to relevant authorities.

This policy is especially relevant because sexual harassment can be a direct result of mental and physical abuse. Those violating the law should be prosecuted in accordance with state legislation and receive appropriate punishment. In most cases, sexual abuse will be punished by prison time. It is also important to address the physical and mental trauma through which the victims had gone.

Works Cited

Mewshaw, Michael. “Me Too – Tennis and Abuse.Inside Tennis. 2017. Web.

The Associated Press. “How the Larry Nassar Scandal Has Affected Others.Legal News. 2018. Web.

USTA. “USTA Officiating: Scenarios and Interpretations.USTA, 2018. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Addressing Abuse in Tennis." June 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Addressing Abuse in Tennis." June 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Addressing Abuse in Tennis'. 18 June.

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