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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Doing the grunt work

Maria Sharapova

Martina Navratilova was presented with the ITF’s Philippe Chatrier Award last night at the world champions’ dinner in Paris and she used her acceptance speech to launch a verbal volley at the grunters in women’s tennis.

“Roger Federer doesn’t make a noise when he hits the ball – go and listen,” Navratilova said. “The grunting has reached an unacceptable level. It is cheating, pure and simple. It is time for something to be done.”

Grunting is a hot topic again largely because of Michelle Larcher De Brito, the 16-year-old Portuguese, who is probably the loudest grunter yet in professional tennis, and that’s saying something when Maria Sharapova was measured at 101.2 decibels – the sound of a light aircraft. It’s a problem that’s been around for years.

Here’s what former Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills had to say about grunting when he retired in 2005 after 22 years service. “I don’t like it at all. Today there is probably more grunting than there has ever been,” he said. “If I was playing an opponent making so much noise, I think I’d just laugh but it’s what young players are being coached to do.

“Many of the non-grunting players are unhappy about the noise pollution and a kind of counter-grunt culture has emerged in recent years whereby offended parties ape their opponent’s noises. As far as I’m concerned it is certainly a specific matter that the rule makers should address.”

If players lost points for excessive noise the grunting would stop pretty quick, but what I want to know is why is it mostly the women that grunt?

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