Maria Sharapova, Surprisingly, Is Against Grunting in Tennis

The woman whose vocalizations have been measured at 101 decibels now says the noise is too distracting.

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David Gray / Reuters

Maria Sharapova of Russia grunts while hitting a return during a match in China.

It’s a bit like Ted Nugent coming out in favor of gun control.

With the Women’s Tennis Association deliberating the idea of limits on how loud players can grunt during matches, tennis star Maria Sharapova—widely considered to be the loudest of them all—has come out in support of the idea.

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Yes, it sounds like a strange thing for a sporting body to consider legislating. But it’s a big problem:  Sharapova’s shouts, for example, have been measured at 101 decibels — on par with a chainsaw or a motorcycle, and a level at which sustained exposure can cause hearing loss.  The four-time grand slam winner told Reuters her grunts were a habit formed when she first started playing tennis. But she agrees with the WTA that the grunting has gotten out of hand.

Other players have said that grunting causes a distraction on the court, and the Association is getting worried that spectators and the television audience are getting fed up. It now plans to arm on-court umpires with noise-level monitoring devices at youth tournaments to try to change players’ breathing techniques from a young age.

“Bottom line is, the right answer has been taken by the tour,” Sharapova told Reuters. “The WTA created a plan. That’s the smart way to go about it, rather than, like, taking someone’s forehand and grip in the middle of their career and telling them to change it.”

Some feel the restrictions should be enforced on the pro circuit as well. Top women’s player Caroline Wozniacki complained about excessive shouting to the WTA last year and tennis legend Martina Navratilova called the act “cheating, pure and simple,” Reuters reports.

For now, however, the WTA is focusing on the youth game, especially the famed Florida tennis academy run by Nick Bollettieri, where some of the game’s most famous grunters—Monica Seles, Sharapova, Serena Williams and Andre Agassi—all trained.

“Because when you start something from a young age and continue it, it’s a habit — whether you do grunt or don’t grunt,” Sharapova says.

The theory is that grunting allows an extra release of energy on a stroke, and there does appear to be some research that backs this up. However, it’s also likely that the sound itself merely intimidates and distracts a player’s opponent — in which case it’s easy to see why players are coming out against it. There’s research supporting that theory, too.

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3 comments
crimson
crimson

Really...if so she should stop SCREAMing (it's not even grunting) IMMEDIATELY. I can't even watch tennis thanks to her and Azarenka.

Dee Stonewall
Dee Stonewall like.author.displayName 1 Like

Maria Sharapova screams at 101 decibels.  Maria Sharapova does NOT "grunt!"  And now Sharapova can have it both ways.  She can be for stopping tennis pros from screaming.  And she can continue to scream!  Whoa!  Maria can have her cake and eat it too?  What a deal, huh? 

All that despite honest tennis professionals saying that it should be ruled as detrimental to the game because screaming interferes w/ concentration!  Ever try to hit the ball when your opponent is screaming at 101 chain-saw noise levels?  Sustained 101 decibel level for how many seconds?  So, yes, of course, Sharapova says and agrees!  Clever girl . . . !! 

And what of the fans?  As a long time fan and ex-player, I am annoyed by all this unnecessary noise.  Shall I wear earplugs while in the stadium audience?  Shall I turn down the audio while watching on television thereby missing commentary?  Or shall I merely no longer be eager to attend or watch?  Why should I be exposed to all this noise level anyway?  Why is silence required of fans but not of players?  How stupid is that?

Now, can the various tennis associations and venues stop all this nonsense?  Stand up and require silence from players as they do of the audience?  And let's not be discriminatory.  It's a male and female silence requirement, not merely for one gender.

And one last toss at the ball:  DO IT NOW . . . !!  IMMEDIATELY.

ronaldof
ronaldof

I did not read, anywhere in this article, Maria Sharapova saying she IS against the grunting. Your headline is not accurate. She said WTA is taking the right answer to end the grunting in women's tennis. Sharapova is right on the mark in her answer to this issue. More power to her! Good luck Maria! WTA and TV should thank you for the ratings in women's tennis instead of criticizing you. Just saying...

You are also a great tennis player!