Many athletes shave their legs, both men and women. It is more common in certain sports than others, and the reasons may also vary. But do tennis players shave legs?
Most female tennis players shave their legs; among men, most do not. Shaving the legs has virtually no effect on tennis performance. However, a massage, ice bath, or physiotherapy treatment is more comfortable with shaved legs. Aesthetics and comfort may be other reasons tennis players shave their legs.
As a tennis player, is it advisable to shave your legs, and what are the pros and cons? You'll find out in this article!
Shaving your legs in everyday life is a personal choice that everyone has to make for themselves.
Women tend to shave their legs more often than men do, but anyone who wants to can shave, or not shave, their legs.
Besides men and women, there is another distinction that can be made. This distinction is between athletes and non-athletes.
When it comes to athletes, shaving can have some added benefits next to the reasons to shave in everyday life. This is the same with professional tennis players.
There is no rule or official advice that states whether or not tennis players should shave their legs, and this results in some players shaving and some players not shaving.
Like in day-to-day life, more women in tennis shave their legs than men.
When it comes to whether to shave or not, there is no best option between the two. There are several reasons to shave your legs, just like there are several reasons not to shave your legs.
This article discusses why many athletes choose to shave their legs, but it also becomes clear that not all of those reasons are relevant to tennis.
Some male tennis players shave their legs, but there are also male tennis players who don’t. It all comes down to personal preferences.
There are some reasons to believe that shaving your legs as a professional tennis player is beneficial, which will be discussed below.
Those reasons aren’t deemed important enough, though, and most professional male tennis players don’t have their legs shaved.
Female tennis players have their legs shaved more often than male tennis players, just like in everyday life.
They can shave their legs due to the reasons below, but social norms play a big role with women.
For many years, it has been considered ‘normal’ for women to shave their legs and for men not to, which is why this division is also visible in tennis.
There are several reasons why athletes shave their legs. Some of those reasons apply to athletes from all sports, while others are more applicable to a specific sport.
One of the general reasons why athletes might shave their legs is because of the aerodynamic advantages.
To put it simply, leg hair slows us down. Anything that causes resistance in the wind while moving at high speed slows us down.
This is why cyclists bend over their handlebars and why ice skaters bend as low as possible.
Leg hair can cause resistance, so even though it might not make a huge difference in all sports, a lot of athletes consider this reason when they decide whether or not to shave.
It also allows sweat to drip off the legs easier, making movements quicker.
Another benefit of not having the sweat caught by leg hair is that bacteria don’t grow as quickly, making it smell less bad.
When you’re an athlete, you need to take care of your body and muscles. You want to avoid injury, of course, but treating your body properly has other benefits as well.
You will be able to heal faster and get better if you take good care of your body.
This is the case for everyone, but especially for athletes who push their body’s limits regularly.
This is why a lot of athletes take ice baths and get massages.
Some athletes find it more comfortable to do these things with shaven legs, as it might irritate the skin less, and it can be less painful.
Sometimes, hair can be pulled unintentionally during leg massages by a physical therapist.
For the physiotherapists, it can be nice to have shaven legs as well, but this depends on their preferences.
However, the general consensus among physiotherapists seems to be that stubbled legs are the least preferable in comparison to hairy legs and smooth legs.
This is a reason that is not specific to athletes but for any person with hair growing on their legs. A good reason to shave leg hair is that you think it looks better.
This might be a motivating factor for athletes since their matches are usually broadcasted for the world to see, so they might want to look good.
For some sports, looks are more important than others.
Figure skating is an example of a sport where everything should be graceful and aesthetic, so those athletes might be more inclined to shave their legs than, say, golfers.
When it comes to shaving for aesthetics, this is much more common with women than with men.
This is mainly due to societal beauty standards, which prefer women to have smooth skin, whereas men are allowed to be hairier.
Comfort can also play a big role in the decision of whether or not to shave the legs.
We already discussed comfort after and before the matches, when the players work with their physiotherapists, but comfort on the court can also be pretty important.
Shaving your legs might help with that.
This is especially the case when athletes want to wear compression socks or when they need tape, for example.
Leg hair can be uncomfortable underneath those things, and removing the tape is not comfortable either when you can be pulling out hair.
Products like sunscreen or lotion can be applied more easily as well on legs that are shaved.
A smaller reason, but good to consider nevertheless, is body temperature. Hairless legs can provide some more coolness compared to the more hairy legs.
In colder countries, this might be irrelevant, but when you play a tournament in a more sunny country, this slight difference between shaven or unshaven legs can mean a lot.
In a lot of sports, road rash and wounds are common. There is always a chance of falling, even though this is a bigger problem in some sports than in others.
Having smooth legs can help with a speedier recovery because when you have hairy legs, the hairs can clutter in and around the wound.
This will make it harder to get the wound nice and clean, which is necessary for a quick recovery.
However, there has also been research showing that hair follicle stem cells contribute to the healing process of wounds, so perhaps shaving is a better option than waxing if this is your main reason for wanting smooth legs.
Now that we have discussed some general reasons to shave your legs as an athlete, it is time to look specifically at tennis.
There is no need for tennis players to shave their legs; the choice is really up to them.
The aesthetics reason mentioned before, which mainly applies to women but can apply to men as well, is something that’s relevant for all sports.
Massages and ice baths aren’t uncommon for tennis players either, so it can be beneficial for tennis players to shave their legs.
But it is certainly not necessary, as proven by some tennis legends who did not shave their legs but were successful nevertheless.
The advantages of shaving your legs that I just mentioned are focused on things that aren’t that relevant to the actual performance.
If we zoom in on the performance, the aerodynamic advantages come to mind again.
Studies show that shaved legs really can help with aerodynamics, but this is mainly with sports like cycling or swimming.
In tennis, you run for short amounts of time and short distances.
Therefore, the aerodynamic advantages are so incredibly small that they won’t affect performance a lot.
You can perform incredibly with hairy legs; Roger Federer is living proof of this.
The answer to this question is no. Not all tennis players shave their legs. In fact, there might be more players who do not shave their legs than players who do.
Very few male tennis players shave their legs, but most female tennis players do. This is mainly due to aesthetic reasons rather than improving tennis performance.
Some big tennis players that don’t shave their legs are Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Considering their success in tennis, it seems safe to say that shaving your legs is not a must in tennis.
Because shaving is not the main concern in tennis, and because this question is not often asked of players, there is limited data on whether professional tennis players shave or wax their legs.
The most logical answer would be that it depends on personal preferences, just like the choice of removing hair or not.
Shaving is usually less of a hassle, but it is more short-term. On the other hand, waxing is more painful but will keep the hairs away for a longer period.
The main difference between these two methods is that the hair gets cut off at the legs with shaving, and with waxing, the hair roots get pulled out.
Either way, players will need to keep shaving or waxing their legs if they want to continue to have smooth legs.
If they want to get rid of the hair completely, they need to invest in laser hair removal. This usually takes several sessions but will keep the hair from growing back.
It is not cheap, but if a tennis player is good enough to make a lot of money, this should be no problem.
While shaving legs is very common in some sports and is more popular among male athletes than regular men, tennis is one of those sports where it does not matter that much whether you decide to shave or not.
Most female tennis players do shave their legs, but this is mainly for aesthetics.
Smooth legs can help with taking care of the body after long matches and practices. Still, it eventually all comes down to an individual's preference.