© Ella Ling

Maria Sharapova - runner-up

Becker: grunting is an embarrassment and a joke


Former Wimbledon champions from Germany tend to take a strong view on grunting. Michael Stich once called it “disgusting, ugly and unsexy” and now Boris Becker has told The Tennis Space that grunting is “an embarrassment, a joke and I hate it”. Becker is hoping that the women’s tour will educate their tennis youth by telling junior players: “It’s not cool, we don’t like it, stop doing it, it’s not necessary – you’re not going to play better tennis with grunting.”

Becker said it was too late to ask players such as Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova to turn the volume down. His view is that something should have been done 20 years ago, back when Monica Seles was shrieking.

“It’s more of a problem with the female players as most guys don’t grunt as it’s embarrassing actually. I hate it and I think it’s a joke. But you can’t take that away any more from Azarenka or Sharapova because that’s the way they do it. The mistake was made 20 years ago – they allowed this to happen, and to reach this stage,” said Becker. “It’s very difficult to suddenly tell Sharapova: ‘You can’t grunt any more’. She’s been playing like this for many years, and successfully. You have to start with the teenagers, with the younger ones.”

Becker is pleased that the women’s tour have decided to do something about it. “I’ve heard that things are changing with the juniors. I think it’s the right thing to do to teach the 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds: ‘It’s not cool, we don’t like it, stop doing it, it’s not necessary – you’re not going to play better tennis with grunting’. Hopefully, the women’s tour are going to follow that through.”

For those wondering why Serena Williams is not going to ‘date’ for the next 10 years – by which time she will be 40 – here was the most interesting line from her interview with Piers Morgan on CNN: “Having a pulmonary embolism is easier than going through a heartbreak.” Williams described herself as a hopeless romantic: “I’m not ready to date again. I’m still trying to get over something. That takes time. I can’t see myself doing anything. I’m good. I’m in a good space. It’s not a fun space actually. But I have to get through it. But it’s life, life.” 

Tennis players can be impatient with ball kids. “I always had my favourites, when I was playing,” recalled Becker, a supporter of the Barclays Ball Kids scheme. “Eye contact was important. If I looked at you, you had to understand immediately that I wanted a towel or wanted the ball. If I had to actually ask the towel, that was already too late. I wouldn’t ask you again. I would ask another ball kid. It’s quite difficult, because players are difficult. They’re under stress, under pressure, and they’re nervous. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I’m amazed how good the kids are. They’ve been excellent the last couple of years.”

  • guesty

    “Most guys don’t grunt”? Most females don’t grunt either. A hearing test is urgently needed for Boris.

    • Laurann

      Maria does it to try and intimidate her opponents. She rolls her eyes and does all sorts of things to intimidate. She is such an overrated disgrace to tennis. I wish she would get married and leave.

    • Steve

      I think you need an eye test. Where did Boris say that most of the female players grunt?
      Boris said about grunting – “It’s MORE of a problem with the female players as most guys don’t grunt” – and used Sharapova and Azarenka as an example.

      He is right in saying that it is more of a problem with female players because those two mentioned above are two of the most well known players on the female circuit, and the noise they both make is ridiculous. You don’t get that noise with Federer, Jokovic, Nadal and Murray.

  • Jason

    It’s ridiculous and annoying. A disgrace to the sport. I don’t watch tennis anymore because of it.

  • An Ceann

    Do we need to watch women’s tennis with earplugs?

    I used to play at New York City’s National Tennis Center. Out of courtesy, we would
    wait for the roar of the passing jets to fade before we served. How
    silly were we? Now we watch Women’s Tennis using earplugs.

    How sad.

  • N8623

    How would the players react, if all the tennis fans watching a match, repeated each noise the players made, scream for scream, or grunt for grunt?

    A former fan