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October 12, 2010

The Tennis "Body Issue"

Body shapes

ESPN The Magazine recently published its annual “Body Issue” and two tennis players were featured.  Esther Vergeer, who has won 396 consecutive wheelchair tennis matches, an incredible record, adorned one of the magazine covers and Venus Williams

was featured in a photo spread lying in a bikini.  Verger posed nude with her tennis racket and wheelchair cleverly covering certain body parts.  In the past, Serena Williams has also been featured in the ESPN “Body Issue” and other tennis stars such as James Blake and David Nalbandian have been featured in People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” issues.  It’s fantastic for tennis stars to be featured in sports and popular magazines because the publicity helps to broaden the appeal of tennis beyond diehard tennis fans.  

The ESPN “Body Issue” features all types of athletes and explored the various shapes of successful athletes in various sports, e.g. a male soccer player and female tennis player.  What is the perfect body type for a tennis star or is there one?  When one looks at the top players there are all sorts of body shapes although certain physical characteristics are consistent even if the actual body shapes vary.  For example, most tennis players are not built like football linebackers or long-distance runners.  Tennis players’ bodies are somewhere in between and the ideal tennis player’s “body” has a combination of strength, speed and endurance.  

In the end, you can’t tell a tennis player by his/her shape, although tennis pros on average, are clearly getting taller.  What distinguishes a superior tennis player is so much more than physique.  It is hand-eye coordination, mental strength, as well as tennis skills.  Nonetheless, “looks” definitely matter from a marketing standpoint and most top tennis players are doing their best to both play their best and also look their best!

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