Monday, June 22, 2009
It's no fun to watch. That's for sure.
LONDON — Martina Navratilova thinks it is cheating, Serena Williams does not even know she is doing it and now there is a Portuguese teenager who appears to cry out in agony when she hits the ball.
Grunting is back on the tennis agenda at the world's most famous tournament, which starts on Monday, and the big noise at Wimbledon could be 16-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito.
At the French Open, her opponent Aravane Rezai complained about the racket across the net, telling the umpire it was distracting her.
Unrepentant as she heads into Wimbledon's first round as a wild card, Larcher de Brito has said grunting is "just something I have done always since I started playing tennis. I am going to keep on doing it because it is really part of my game."
Nine-times Wimbledon champion Navratilova, who found the grunting of Monica Seles off-putting, feels tennis officials should take a stand.
"The grunting has reached an unacceptable level. It is cheating pure and simple and it is time for something to be done," she said at an awards ceremony in Paris earlier this month.
Jimmy Connors grunted his way to eight grand slam victories in the 1970s and 80s. Ivan Lendl complained that Andre Agassi's grunting put him off. Today female players are under the spotlight as "decibel demons."