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Tennis, anyone?

Posted by James Briggs on December 29, 2003

In Reply to: Tennis, anyone? posted by Peter Weiss on December 29, 2003

: : Does anyone know the origin of this phrase?

: okay... One more "problem":
: I'm no native speaker, so could someone be so kind to explain the meaning of a "tennis, anyone? attitude" for me?

This is a characature of so-called upper class behaviour in England in the 1920s. It was used in plays of the times and has been carried over ever since. It is said to represent the uncaring attitude of the upper class to the sometimes terrible living and other conditions of the poor. They, the upper class, were fixated on themselves, to the extent that they relieved their own boredom with games, eg tennis. 'Tennis anyone?' is a way of saying 'I don't worry about things outside my own small circle'.
Whether this attitude was ever present in people, it was certainly used as a bit of a weapon against the presumed indifference.