© Ella Ling

Azarenka 2

Shriver: Players have the power to silence the grunters


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.

  • Shanon

    When Sharapova and Azarenka play on another i HAVE to mute the TV which is a shame since i love hearing the commentators.

    • Tuti cAR

      Why not just turn the volume down a little?

  • TennisFan

    It’s not grunting it’s screeching. The men grunt, that’s tolerable. Is it any wonder the ratings didn’t improve for the women’s RG final? Who can stand to listen to that?

  • Konstantina

    I don’t think that grunting is the most pleasant thing but it’s hardly that annoying.  And many people have said that it doesn’t bother them yet all these analysts keep repeating themselves. Just my opinion though.

    Dear Tennis Fan, the ratings did improve a lot in general. You are obviously only aware of the ratings in the US which is a shame as there is also a continent called Europe where tennis is popular. This year’s RG final was the most viewed in more than a decade. Check Eurosport ratings. 
    Plus, have you watched Granollers play?

    • Geraint

      I’m not particularly a tennis fan but I refuse to watch when either Sharapova or Azarenka are playing. Just because either the majority don’t mind or are such tennis fans they put up with it regardless is absolutely no reason to allow it to continue – it’s a way to guarantee minimizing the return to sponsors – long term sponsors will not put up with it

  • Joey

    I love watching tennis but have to mute the sound when Maria is playing AZ.  It is like two owls calling each other.

  • Sunny nine

    Why is it always Sharapova and Azarenka?  Didn’t you hear Errani grunting loud or Schiavone?  Even Wozniacki who purports to not like grunters-she grunts with a double syllable grunt.  Some of these players don’t do it all the time but that is worse because the grunts are unexpected.  Also what about the ATP?  Even Brad Gilbert brought up Djokovic’s double grunting when he was playing Kavcic at RG, who also was double grunting.  How about Granollers, who was written up by many journalists? I know people who winced at the AO final of 6 hours of grunting from Nadal and Djokovic.  Nadal sounds like an dying animal.  So what is this sexism about?  And where were all these complaints and this bandwagon everyone is jumping on since Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004?  It is both tours and it is not just Sharapova or Azarenka.  And a player that has been playing with them several times can’t all of a sudden claim hindrance.  And if it was a hindrance wouldn’t Sharapova and Azarenka have been winning every match their whole career?  A lot of hypocrisy from fans who all of a sudden are opening up their mouths, from players who have played w grunters and now say something and worst of all, from the media who are inciting people to disrupt the careers of players who have played without being told to shut up by their peers or the WTA all these years.  The media better hopes that some nut doesn’t get on the field and try to silence the players.

    • Cheesecake

      Of course it’s not only Azarenka and Sharapova, but they are easily the worst offenders

      • Tuti cAR

        No, they are not the worst offenders.
        The only difference between them and the other grunters on both the ATP and WTA is genetics and the pitch of their grunts. In terms of hindrance and so-called cheating (which I think is complete BS), noise is noise. If they are cheating then so are Nadal, Djokovic (who grunt just as loud but lower pitched) and hundreds of players on both tours. It’s a completely different conversation if we’re talking about their grunts being more irritating.

    • Pipsqueak

      You have a point here. Fans and journalists alike seem only to go after certain types of players. You know, the type that is successful, young, good-looking with attitude to boot – an alpha female. The Erranis and Schiavones and Lepchenkos of the tour are just as guilty of grunting but are given a free pass because….why? Because they are seem as “humble”. The hard-working journeywoman as opposed to a “wunderkid” with millions of dollars in endorsement money.
      I think people like Pam Shriver are more guilty of schaudenfraude than sexism.They want to see the mean cheerleader humbled and silenced.

  • http://twitter.com/joemontoro Joe Montoro

    If you listen to them on the practice court, and I have, they hardly make a sound, certainly nothing like during a match.

  • MashaFantastic

    As far as I know there is no rule which states that a tennis player needs to hear the ball on the racket – Ergo – that would be such a lame complaint which should be totally ignored by any umpire

    There is however a rule that says that a tennis player can not disturb her opponent when her opponent is about to return the ball – Serena did  this at the USO 2011 vs S. Stosur when she screamed while the ball was in still in the air on her opponent’s half – and so did M. Kirilenko at Indian Wells 2012 when she hit her racket several times on the court while M. Sharapova was about to hit the return

    It seems to me that Pam should study the rules a little better before she gives her bad advise to WTA players *lol* – Their are no rules against grunting and believe me – the WTA won’t do anything about it when top stars and major spectator magnets like Sharapova and Azarenka are doing it

    Besides – how long will this none issue be discussed over and over again? – Grunting has been going on since Monica Seles – Hasn’t Pam evolved with the game? – She’s like an old silent movie fan from the 1920s bashing todays movies for their sound effects – *lol*

  • Leonorej

    I was offended by Sharapova’s comment that “no one important” has ever asked her to lower the decibel
    level of her screeching.  I wonder if she considers the fans important because I am an avid tennis fan who
    can’t stand grunts, screams, whatever you want to call them by either the men or the women.  I never watch the loudest players because I find the noise unpleasant…what if it did result in not hitting the ball as
    hard?  That might also be a blessing since all the hard-hitting has resulted in less finesse on the tennis
    I am with Navratilova.  Give the players a year, maybe even two, but then they should be fined.  I think they
    would quickly learn to breathe differently.

    Just a tennis fan