Tennis from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s witnessed a global downturn in on-court manners. This was exemplified by players such as Ilie Năstase, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe, who built reputations on their "bad-boy" images by exhibiting lower levels of sportsmanship, honesty, courtesy to officials, and behavioral restraint; and concomitant higher levels of ostensible petulance, aggressive posturing, and disrespect toward opponents, umpires, and spectators than had been customary in the past. The aims of this article are to examine the extent that this phenomenon was the result of wider shifts in class and gender relations during this period, alongside the rise of consumerist, neoliberal, free-market philosophies in American and British societies. In short, the overall objective is to offer a partial explanation of this phenomenon by locating it in the broader social context of marked changes in society and tennis more specifically.

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