Pam Shriver, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and world No 3, has urged players to stand up to the grunters at Wimbledon this summer. Shriver, an analyst for ESPN’s televised Wimbledon coverage, told The Tennis Space: “I would like to see a player catch the ball and say, ‘stop, this is hindrance, I can’t hear the ball on the racket out there’. It would be fascinating to see how that would play out. We’re still waiting for the first player from this generation to make a serious attempt to silence the grunters.”
Shriver on how the players have the power to silence the grunters: “I would like to see a player catch the ball and say, ‘stop, this is hindrance, I can’t hear the ball on the racket out there’. It would be fascinating to see how that would play out. With the rules as they are now, it needs the grunter’s opponent to make a stand, to look up to the umpire or something, and say that this can’t continue. I think it would have to be someone who is playing Sharapova or Azarenka for the first time, as otherwise people could say, ‘Why are you complaining now? You were okay with this in Indian Wells, In Miami, or wherever, so what’s different now?’ You also need a player who wants some publicity. I would be very interested in seeing that. As far as I know, no one from this generation has ever stood up to the grunters. People say that it’s difficult for something to be done about grunting, but opponents have it in their power to do something about it.”
Shriver on “a difficult issue” which has been “terrible public relations for women’s tennis”: I don’t think anyone’s enjoyment of a tennis match has ever been enhanced by grunting, by having to listen to unattractive noises. The only serious attempt to silence grunters came in the early 1990s when Monica Seles was playing at Wimbledon. Maybe someone from this generation will make a stand. It’s not easy as players like Sharapova have grown up being allowed to grunt for 10 years now, and suddenly they could be asked to tone it down. Those players have grown up with the situation as it is now. I know the women’s tour are looking at introducing new rules for the juniors, so those players will have grown up with that by the time they reach the senior tour.”
ESPN.co.uk will bring tennis fans coverage of Wimbledon, including live scores, video, reports, comment and galleries plus contributions from British tennis player Chris Wilkinson. Pam Shriver is a TV analyst for ESPN’s Wimbledon tennis coverage in the US.