Women’s tennis screamers have more bark than slice

7 Have your say

    The unmistakable metal ‘ka-khuck’ and subsequent fizz of an ice cold tinny being cracked open. The sizzle of entrail-laden snags hopping around on the barbeque.

    The competitive squawk from a flock of seagulls fighting over a chip as the ocean gets acquainted with the sand.

    The baritone knock of willow punishing leather the only way it knows how.

    And wafer-slim, attractive, scantily clad Eastern European women wailing like banshees.

    These are the sounds of summer and that last one is enough to put me off women’s tennis for life. Although I do not actively follow any women’s sports, I have a genuine appreciation for the talents and respect their place within the sporting domain.

    But when it comes to their tennis stars, do my ears really have to put up with all that shrieking?

    One cannot discuss this noisy aspect of women’s tennis without some kind of shout out to the ‘Queen of Shriek’, Monica Seles. She paved the way for the Williams sisters, Sharapova and the host of other decibelly enhanced women on the tour.

    Many believe that crazy Gunter Parche took to Seles with some kitchen equipment because he was an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf. I propose that he’d just grown very tired of Seles’ constant vocal commotion.

    But Seles’ mantle has long been passed over, and the woman now at the forefront of ruining tennis for the viewing public is Michelle Larcher de Brito. Have you heard this woman? Each shot is followed by a prolonged wail that would not be out of place on the set of Boogie Nights.

    The failure to stamp out Gruntgate with Seles has led to an escalation where someone like de Brito can have the clear advantage of distracting her opponent while making women’s tennis an absolute earsoar for the rest of us.

    Interesting that this is tolerated in a sport where there’s enough ‘shushing’ to appease a librarian, flash photography is the devil and the Umpire’s mantra is ‘quiet please’.

    A friend of mine questioned the difference between this highly annoying habit of many of the top players and the controversial ruling against Serena Williams in last year’s US Open final, where her premature celebration resulted in a crucial point being awarded to Sam Stosur.

    As we all know, Williams became engaged in a very open spat with the umpire and did a pretty good job at (further) disgracing her reputation on the international stage.

    The general line of thought is that Williams had control over her celebratory outburst where those that grunt do not. It’s involuntary, they cry – like breathing.

    If they banned the grunters tomorrow and they no longer had the hefty tennis cheques rolling in, I wonder if these girls would all of a sudden discover a way to hold their breath.

    But even if we do concede that these horrible shrieks are, in fact, subconscious. Does that really even matter? Since when is that an excuse in sport?

    The whistle had blown but the ball was there and out of habit alone, I kicked it – yellow card.

    The ball hit my bat but was about to crash into the stumps, so I reactionally knocked it away with my hand – you’re out. But this exception is made in tennis to the detriment of non grunting opponents and fans alike.

    Given, grunting in tennis is not confined to those playing in skirts. After all, Jimmy Connor was one of the all-time greats… and he could play some tennis too.

    But it would take a brave, or possibly deaf, person to argue that there is no difference in terms of irritability between a male and female grunt that accompanies a winner down the line.

    The more I think about, the less right these ladies have to carry on like they’re breaking a stack of house tiles at karate class every time they hit the ball. It’s about time Mr Miyagi had a word and we stamped this out for good.

    There is no doubt if the tennis hierarchy took a tougher stance on this, the tennis world would be a better off for it and if these women are so intent on making a racquet, we can only hope that it’s one they can hit a forehand with.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • January 26th 2012 @ 12:46pm
      Bob Head said | January 26th 2012 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      Could not agree more; it’s the worst non playing & not required effort in any sport. It is probably also the one ‘output’ that is intended to annoy both opponent & spectator. How would it be if a fast bowler screamed at the batsman as he delivered the ball? And that is why it has a law against it. Wake up tennis officials, get rid of it.
      At least I found out what the mute button on the TV was designed for.

      • January 26th 2012 @ 11:10pm
        Oracle said | January 26th 2012 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

        I will refuse to be watching and encourage everyone to boycott this match.
        I will settle for Rockwiz replays instead

    • January 26th 2012 @ 11:02pm
      Superd said | January 26th 2012 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

      They’ll do something about the shreeking when people refuse to watch these players. If the public boycott them, then the officials will be forced into action.

    • January 27th 2012 @ 8:13am
      Diana Hockley said | January 27th 2012 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      I don’t know why commentators insist on calling it “grunting” It’s straight out screaming and should be banned. In my opinion, it’s a form of cheating, of making sure their opponent can’t hear when the racquet strikes the ball. It’s interesting that none of these women shrieks when they are practicing. For me, watching the tennis has become very tiring. I shall not be watching the Sharapova/Azarenka final. I can do without that noise spoiling what should be an enjoyable game. I am sure that if the tennis officials had any backbone and banned players who scream, the screeching would soon stop when the money wasn’t coming in.

      • January 27th 2012 @ 9:50am
        B.A Sports said | January 27th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        That is wrong Diana

        I watched Azarenka practice several times in Sydney and she trains the way she plays. Its nothing to do with disguising the ball coming off the racket she does it on every shot, whether it is a serve, volley, topspin forehand or defensive slap shot – in a match and in practice.

        I think (and i know i am in the minority) that it has been blown WAY out of proportion and because everyone focuses on it (shriek meter, please!). I can sit there and watch it and i don’t even notice the noise. When someone starts doing it out of the blue (and plenty of male players do that), then i notice.

        When it comes to obtrusive nosies while I am watching my sport, I find Tony Greig, Ray Warren and Ian Chappell more offensive than a couple of young girls making some noise when they hit a tennis ball.

    • January 27th 2012 @ 8:52am
      Richard said | January 27th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      Only one choice on this match, boycott it. We can’t support this in women’s tennis. The screamers won’t stop while they are getting an advantage by distracting the opponent. The only way to stop this is by getting the attention of sponsors. That then might get the attention of organisers.

    • Roar Pro

      January 28th 2012 @ 5:33am
      Purple Shag said | January 28th 2012 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      I’m with you all on the Geoffrey Boycott. Up until the powers that be agree to remove all players from the tour that choose to carry on like gelded chiwawas. I don’t care if they do it in training or if it is, in fact, to disguise the spin. It is offensive to the viewing public and at the end of the day, we are paying their wages.

      BOYCOTT ON!!

      ps – fight the power


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