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Wimbledon’s Grunting Problem

June 22, 2011 2 comments

Victoria Azarenka- "Serial Grunter"

I have mixed feelings about women grunting.  As I sense a suicidal situation if I elaborate much further- let me contain my remarks on female grunting to tennis in particular.  I had no idea about the extent of the problem until I read today that Wimbledon officials seem to be fed up with the practice.

The UK’s Telegraph explains the situation hereI did not know people were measuring tennis grunting but they are.  The record is held by one Maria Sharapova, whose grunts at the 2009 tournament reached 105 decibels.  Rustling leaves, for example, can reach 40 decibels.  Your average traffic noise comes in at 85 decibels.  A rock concert reaches 110 decibels.  So Ms. Sharapova’s grunts fall somewhere between what you’d hear on New York’s West Side highway or Washington’s GW Parkway and Peter Townsend and the Who. 

Equally important as loudness, however, is the length of the grunt.  The prime offender here is Victoria Azarenka of Belarus who has been referred in several publications today as a “serial grunter.”    Ms. Azarenka has reached 95 decibels but the average length of her grunts each and every time she hits the ball has been recorded at over 1.5 seconds.

The public seems to share my mixed feeling about how bad this problem is.  The Washington Post has deemed it an important enough matter to conduct an internet poll.  As I write, 56% of those who took the time to answer this survey say all grunting should be banned from tennis.  But there are 44% who would oppose such draconian measures.

I am completely torn over this issue and will reserve judgment until after I have watched a few rounds on TV this coming weekend.  But I don’t think grunting is something that can be stopped.   Our serial grunter, Ms. Azarenka, is quoted as saying that she is not alone; 70% of the women’s tour grunt as well.  She says she’s been doing it since the age of 10 and that it helps her put more power into the ball. 

Ultimately, it is the players themselves who can put a stop to it and I don’t mean by exercising will power or something.  The opponent of a serial grunter can complain to the umpire if it gets too overwhelming or distracting.  

Certainly, I am now officially adding tennis grunting to the things I worry about; a growing list that now includes sleep apnea, allergic reactions to peanuts, global warming and the shrinking number of Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in America.

I know that was weird but I had to end this damn article somehow.