© Ella Ling

Maria Sharapova - runner-up

Wimbledon exclusive: "Grunting is not attractive."


Ian Ritchie, Wimbledon’s outgoing chief executive, has told The Tennis Space that grunting “is not an attractive thing” and risks spoiling the sport as an “entertainment spectacle”.

In an exclusive interview, Ritchie said he was pleased that grunting had been on the news agenda at the Australian Open, where Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova contested the loudest ever grand slam final, as that should encourage women’s tennis to address the problem. Ritchie urged grunters’ opponents to take a stand and to complain to the umpire about the noise.

How much of a problem is grunting?
“I wasn’t in Melbourne but I was interested that there was more traction about this issue. What I would I say, and the WTA know this and [the chairman and chief executive] Stacey Allaster is receptive to this, is that although there is a professional element, it’s still an entertainment spectacle, and it’s putting the fans off. The view from the fans, whether they’re watching on TV or in the flesh, is that they don’t like it, that it does put them off. It’s very difficult to expect a player who has been brought up like that, trained on that, to stop. The idea of training and educating the younger players is the right route to take. It’s not just a Wimbledon issue. People in Australia clearly think this is an issue too. I would hope that they will try to address it because it’s not an attractive thing for the spectators.”
Do the the rules needs to be changed?
“There’s a rule in existence. It’s rarely enforced. It’s enforceable by the opponent. This isn’t just in the hands of the umpire. If a player feels affected by it, they can complain to the umpire. If you talk to the WTA, they say that in their meetings the players say that they don’t find it off-putting or something they have a problem with. It doesn’t seem to be a problem with the players. But then it’s a question of the spectators. And you have to bear in mind that the whole point is to entertain spectators and get them to come. If they find it off-putting, it should be raised in discussion. I raised it a lot last year, and I think it’s good that it’s come up again. There seems to be a recognition that it needs to be addressed.”


  • Sunnynine

    So why are the stands full for Vika and Maria’s matches?  Why do the networks put on their matches very frequently if fans don’t want to see them-maybe because the majority aren’t bothered.  The media and Slams have stirred this up and those who agreed with them have jumped on the bandwagon lately.  The grunting has been going on a long time back to Seles, why is it such a hot topic now?  The GS people and media only get feedback and tweets from people who follow them and thus already share their opinions.  As far as what Woznaicki and Radwanska said-Wozniacki grunts (a long grunt) and Radwanska is a hypocrite because accepts her friend Vika’s grunt but not Sharapova’s.  The WTA and players who stop play or use the hindrance rule or put new rules out are going to get some lawsuits from players that have never been stopped or have been called a hindrance by other players.  Wozniacki is a suck-up and just wants to appear like she is on the popular side of the opinion. 
    People are just afraid of forceful loud women.  They think women should be kept “in their place” ie quiet . England is still Victorian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1397632978 Cedar Hurst

    I, personally, turn the mute on during grunting matchesI love tennis, but can not stand the shrill screams that are anything but a grunt.But then I love to watch Ice Skating too and for years had to mute it because I could not stand Dick Buttons constant demeaning of skaters. His so called critique was malisceous and often unfounded and cruel.