Abstract

Although historians have read the athleticism of seven-time national tennis champion Bill Tilden as a cover for his sexual identity, his playing style was very much a product of his existence outside normative gender expectations in the 1920s. Tennis allowed Tilden to engage in the homosocial amateur sporting code of upper-class Northeasterners—establishing psychological intimacy with playing partners, opponents, and protégés—while also adapting the more “roughneck” and varied techniques of working-class Californian players into a style that observers celebrated for both its power and its beauty. Tilden defied contemporary expectations that bourgeois white men should eventually limit their participation in leisure and settle down with marriage and stable capitalist production, while using athletic movement to bridge gender categories in the creation of his own “artistic” self-expression.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2155-8455
Print ISSN
0094-1700
Pages
pp. 447-466
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-28
Open Access
No
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