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WTA to install Grunt-O-Meter to get tennis divas to tone down the racket

Jun 27, 2012, 10:05 AM EDT

sharapovascream Getty Images

It’s an urban myth that Maria Sharapova grunts so loudly during tennis matches that she sets off car alarms. But the shrieks have been known to lure Bigfoot from the woods (I saw one in the will-call line at the Bank of the West Classic). Of course she’s not the only women’s player who grunts every time she hits the ball … and some men do it as well. And pro tennis is about fed up with it, because fans have been complaining.

So the World Tennis Association in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation and representatives of the four majors, have introduced a three-point plan to bring down the decibel level at matches, and hopefully eliminate grunting altogether in the future. The first part of this plan is my favorite:

The development of a handheld device — a kind of Hawk-Eye for noise — for umpires to objectively measure on-court grunting levels.

“I’m not going to use that word,” said WTA chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster in an interview Monday, when asked if the portable device would be akin to the grunt-o-meters sometimes used at Wimbledon to measure egregious offenders such as Monica Seles and top-ranked Maria Sharapova. “The bottom line is that we want to bring forward across all levels of competition an objective rule through use of technology to make it much easier for athletes and chair umpires.”

Other parts of the plan include a new rule setting acceptable and non-acceptable noise levels, and educational programs at the junior level to teach kids that grunting is not cool.

Here comes the WTA’s new mascot, Grunty the Rhino! Hit him with your racquets, kids!

The WTA points out that current top-tier pro players are exempt from the new rules, which they plan to phase in for the next generation of stars.

It will not be too soon. Every time I watch women’s tennis my pets flee into the forest.

  1. cbking05 - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    My Lady is Louder….

    • thetruth1313 - Jun 28, 2012 at 7:11 AM

      So I’ve heard

  2. jasonlasloan - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Limiting the athleticism of these women is dangerous to the integrity of tennis.

    • myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jun 27, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Please explain how this would limit the athleticism of them. Sorry, I don’t remember Chrissy and Martina providing these antics, and they were both very great women’s tennis players.

      • federerfanny - Jun 28, 2012 at 4:17 AM

        Just because you don’t remember Martina and Chrissy making sounds doesn’t mean they didn’t. It just means you have a selective memory and ignored that fact to justify your current, sexist opinion.

        As to how it limits athleticism? Is that a real question, because its rather silly to ask how imposing conscious thought about how one sounds while playing tennis, and forcing players to restrain themselves physically while exerting themselves physically would not limit athleticism. It’s easy for armchair critics to cry foul about things like this and stupid to let it get in the way of enjoying tennis.

        And “dowhatifeellike” those children are INSTRUCTED to grunt, as are ALL pupils, and it is stressed that the sounds emerge at moments of greatest physical exertion-it’s taught to beginners to help tighten core muscles during their moves and to overcome nerves to focus their strength and purpose into each move (things that figure significantly in tennis), until the grunts emerge naturally as a result of the power invested in the moves. Don’t you grunt when you pick up something heavy? These players are exerting themselves to never-before-seen levels to succeed. So why is it an issue for fans that the athletes are noisy while doing it? It seems whenever women make noise in tennis, whether it be demands for representation and equal pay or grunts, they’re told to shut up. This kind of governance of women’s bodies in tennis will leave a black spot on the sport, it will not be to its benefit. It’s amazing to read the kind of blatant sexism people so freely and openly espouse on this topic.

        • myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jun 28, 2012 at 9:57 AM

          Really? My opinion is sexist? PLEASE explain how you jump to THAT conclusion on me. It’s not selective memory. The only old time player that grunted to excess was Monica Seles. I’m not saying that players don’t make noises. But to the levels seen today is beyond absurd. This will not be a black spot on the sport. Rather the opposite. Oh, and the only time I grunt is when I OVERexert myself. Are you truly suggesting this is the real cause? Because THAT would be … Oh, and they are not going to force them to be quiet. Just not reach Sharipova levels. But please, feel free to expound more senseless drivel.

  3. dowhatifeellike - Jun 27, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    It’s just as annoying as a 6-year-old screaming with every karate move; you learn to breathe properly by yelling, but once you learn the breathing it can be done almost silently.

  4. allmyteamsareterrible - Jun 27, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Refuse to watch tennis because of this. It is so incredibly annoying. The current players shouldn’t be exempt from these new rules either, it is pretty much ruining tennis for the casual fan. America already couldn’t care less about tennis (see our rankings lately?), this can’t be helping future generations.

    • sasquash20 - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:59 AM

      It is half the reason I watch. Makes me think they could be animals in bed. What you would rather have the lame ass broad casters talking?

  5. florida727 - Jun 27, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    There is no need for grunting, and it’s gotten laughable to the point where when their timing gets thrown off even a little bit, they grunt THEN hit the ball. Proof that it’s staged and not genuinely a “part of who they are”. I think it’s more gamesmanship than a necessity, and Sharapova is the biggest offender. But since she’s a “star”, they’ll never enforce it to stop her from doing it. It makes women’s tennis a joke. You virtually never see guys doing it.

    #allmyteams… don’t give up watching tennis. It’s a great sport to view. Just hit the MUTE button :)

    • cbking05 - Jun 27, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Yiu don’t see guys doing this because, Guys just squirm and/or shake…women make all the noise

    • sasquash20 - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:02 AM

      I don’t think its staged. I once lived in an apartment complex that had tennis courts in the center of the building complex. The apartments had balconies over looking the courts and I loved watching 16-22 year old hotties out there grunting in short skirts. Everyone of them grunted, it was only practice but they grunted. Man I miss my youth.

    • federerfanny - Jun 28, 2012 at 4:24 AM

      actually you HEAR men do it almost ALL the time. And it usually sounds just as bad. Apparently you are able to ignore it enough when men do it in order to watch the match, just not when women do it? I love how you quote a non-existent situation (please post more than one clip illustrating this timing issue you invented) as proof that for women it’s staged. Or are you an expert in what a women faking it sounds like?

      • dowhatifeellike - Jun 28, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        It has been well-documented that higher-pitched sound causes more discomfort than lower-pitched sounds of the same volume.

        • p1nch3dloaf - Jun 28, 2012 at 9:35 PM

          …in terms of sonic assault on the ears, a fart is pleasant compared to fingernails scratching a chalkboard.