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22 Jun 2009

Shut up and play

Gay tennis icon Martina Navratilova slams scream queens.

"I didn't know I grunt till I watch a tape of myself," says Seles.
Would you associate Maria Sharapova’s grunting on court the same as a jumbo jet taking off, a diesel train and a police siren? Well, currently the ITF (International Tennis Federation) is believed to be considering outlawing such distractions as "noise hindrance" under its code of conduct.

First, Monica Seles took the tennis world by stormed in the early 1990’s with her thunderous strokes from her double handed forehand and her shockingly loud grunt.

Seles mentioned once in an interview that she couldn’t believe it when she saw herself on video: she doesn’t even seem to realize all the din she makes on court.

Then in 2003, Maria Sharapova inherited the throne as the loudest queen on tennis courts. Despite her beauty and fashionable outfits, Maria’s is all about brute when she takes to the court with her hard hitting flat groundstrokes and high pitch grunting.

The 2005 Wimbledon semi-final between Sharapova and Venus Williams was intense and err, extremely noisy.

Now in 2009, we welcome 16 year old tennis prodigy, Michelle Larcher de Brito, the latest big noise in women's tennis who will have Britain's tabloids dusting off the Wimbledon 'gruntometers' this week.

Larcher de Brito declared that she is adamant she will not tone down the volume
Larcher de Brito made such a din with her on-court screaming at the recent French Open that her opponent complained to the umpire, condemning the Portuguese girl's repeated noise-making as "unpleasant".
Nine-time Wimbledon champion and gay icon, Martina Navratilova believes the scream queens do gain an unfair advantage with the noise they make during play.

"Grunting, screeching, shrieking - I call it cheating and it’s got to stop," she said.

"I started having issues with it when I was playing Monica Seles back in the early 1990s.

She was one of the first, and I didn’t like it one bit. It affected my game because to me it is important to hear the ball hit the racquet.

"Rules must be changed, players must be warned. If they don’t stop, they must have points deducted. I can see people turning off their TV sets because the noise players make is abhorrent."

Larcher de Brito has been handed a wildcard into Wimbledon, an act of generosity that willl be welcomed by the British media who once took great delight in measuring the decibel levels of Maria Sharapova and Monica Seles.

Both Sharapova and Larcher de Brito are graduates of the Nick Bollettieri academy in Florida. However at a recent press conference at Eastbourne, a warm-up tournament for Wimbledon, Larcher de Brito declared that she is adamant she will not tone down the volume even if it continues to be an issue.

"It's something that's been part of my game ever since I started," she said.

"If they made a rule that you're not allowed to shriek or scream or grunt, it wouldn't be fair because it's part of the game," she said.

"I'm 16, I'm still learning. Maybe I can eventually put it under control. I hope not because it comes from Monica Seles, it comes from Sharapova, it comes from really great players."

Bollettieri has said he has never encouraged his pupils to grunt and groan.

"Never once has that entered into my mind. But I believe releasing your energy is good because if you don't, it tightens up the body," said the tennis guru.

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-06-22 15:28  
These women aren't grunting; what I had heard in the videos are full-on screams and shrieks!!
2. 2009-06-23 13:59  
They´re terrible aren´t they :-) The men also grunt, so I think it's hard to forbid it. When you look at the top players: Not all the top players grunt and they are able to beat the players who are grunting.
3. 2009-06-23 22:13  
I'm angry about the ad photo. That didn't show in the story, poor game fridae.
4. 2009-06-29 07:34  
Martina! Still the greatest female tennis player ever. Possibly the best ever regardless of gender. Gracious. Quiet. And devastatingly good.
5. 2009-07-01 12:54  
Has no one ever heard former grand slam champion Thomas Muster or Jimmy Conners ... they sounded like they were giving birth. At a time when only a spanish guy with bad knees gives any competition whatsoever to Federerererer, be thankful of the standard of women's tennis. I don't give a monkey's what they sound like. I have never seen a better female athlete than Venus Williams.

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