This is what sports officials focus on when their games lack doping controversies: The head of Wimbledon wants players to stop grunting.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Ian Ritchie said the players’ grunts are off-putting to viewers and distracting to players. “We are one tournament in a global circuit. But we have made our views clear and we would like to see less of it,” he said.
The Telegraph reports that Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, “a player often criticized for her wails,” reached near-record levels this year when noise machines recorded her grunts at 95 decibels. According to the paper, Azarenka’s grunts “exceeded 1.5 seconds almost every time she hit the ball.”
Players are allowed to complain to an umpire if they find their opponent’s grunts distracting.
The Telegraph does not attribute the problem specifically to female players, but mentions no male players known for grunting.
The loudest grunt on record belongs to Maria Sharapova, who was recorded at 105 decibels in 2009. To put it another way, that’s about as loud as a car horn from one meter away.
Ritchie attributed the problem of loud grunts to “an education problem among younger players,” adding, “If you say, ‘What do you get the most letters about?’ I would say that grunting is high up.”
Take a listen to what Victoria Azarenka sounds like in action: