Paula Badosa won 7-5, 7-6 in the second round of the WTA 500 in Charleston against Leylah Fernandez in a beautiful and balanced match. Immediately after her success against the Canadian, Badosa stopped to discuss her match but not only with the Tennis Channel television station.
On trash-talk, Badosa said: “On the track I always talk about trash-talk! Now, seriously, I think it can be a little different when you’re not used to it. Traditionally tennis is very polite, but why not? It’s a new generation and it could be a change, it could be different and it could be fun.
But I don’t know how a woman would take it, perhaps more personally. But in the men’s field I see it. I like watching tennis and I like watching women’s tennis. I think they get better every year and I learn from them too.”
But what is trash-talk in sport?
Trash-talk is a form of bragging or name-calling commonly used in highly competitive situations, such as sporting events.
It is generally intended to intimidate the opponent or make him lose his temper, but it can also have a humorous and playful spirit as well. Often characterized by the use of hyperbole, figurative language, puns and teasing.
This technique was first used systematically by boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Since then it has become common for top-level sportsmen of all disciplines to use it to annoy or irritate opponents in order to ruin their performance.
At amateur levels it is generally discouraged and frowned upon, especially in youth competitions. Within the NBA championships, the most important basketball federation in the world, trash-talking has the dimensions of a real psychological warfare, which some players implement on casual victims.
The most expert players in this area are real poets of the continuous offense, often aimed at hitting the closest affections of the opponents and which sometimes, given the gravity or theatrics, reaches the limits of a technical foul.
A possible explanation for this can be found in the fact that many high-level US basketball players trained in city playgrounds, where the boys often give rise to real challenges to the last offense. Among the best known players to use this tactic are Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant and especially Larry Bird.
Now trash-talking clears tennis too: Paula Badosa is right, and at the same time wrong. Yes, for the new generations it can be fun. But tennis, as Paula reminds us, is a very polite sport, for gentlemen and ladies. At least leave this one.