WTA exploring ways 'to reduce excessive grunting'
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Maria Sharapova’s shriek when she hits the ball is “pretty annoying” and “just too loud,” according to one of her rivals.
No. 8-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska spoke out on Tuesday at the Australian Open after her loss to Victoria Azarenka, whose high-pitched hoot has also attracted plenty of criticism.
The WTA, which runs the tour, said it is looking at ways to reduce grunting. Currently, the umpire can penalize a player for “a deliberate act” of hindrance but the rule is rarely enforced when it comes to grunting.
“Of course everybody can make some noise. This is tennis,” Radwanska said. “But I think it’s just too loud. I don’t think it’s very necessary to scream that loud. So if they (the WTA) want to do something, why not?”
During Azarenka’s matches in Melbourne, some people in the crowd have been mimicking the unusual sound she makes. Host broadcaster Channel 7 has what it calls a “Whoo! Meter,” which registered the sound at 91.4 decibels on Tuesday.
Grunting in women’s tennis has been an issue as far back as the heyday of Monica Seles in the 1990s. No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki said in October she thought “there are some players who do it on purpose.”
The WTA issued a statement Tuesday, saying it is “aware that some fans find it bothersome.”
“We are currently in the process of exploring how to reduce excessive grunting, especially for younger players just starting out, without adversely affecting players who have developed their game under the current training, rules and procedures,” the statement said. “We do believe that we need to address the concerns expressed by some fans and take a careful look at our rules and education policies.”
Radwanska said she was used to the noise from Azarenka, but added: “About Maria (Sharapova), I mean, what can I say? For sure that is pretty annoying and it’s just too loud.”
Azarenka, through to her first Australian Open semifinal, said she started grunting when she was growing up and needed extra power to hit her shots.
The 22-year-old Belarusian said she didn’t think she and Sharapova “are the only players who actually grunt.”
“I cannot speak for any others. I only speak for myself,” she said. It’s the way I am, the way I play.
“If you want to a little bit more on insight, I think it’s the way that made me breathe, made me move. It’s part of my movement.”