Saturday, July 02, 2005

To Grunt or Not to Grunt?

Well the Wimbledon women's (I refuse to use the language of the All-England Club and say ladies) final has just ended with a spectacular match between Lindsay Davenport and Venus Willams. Congrats to both for an excellent final.
But overall the women's side of the tournament was a relatively staid affair with only a few upsets and almost no controversy...except for the grunting.
Grunting in tennis has been around a long time in some form or other. It became headline news when Monica Seles entered the scene as hers was a fairly consistent (in volume and articulation) but different from others we had heard.
This year tournament referee Alan Mills made it news again claiming that it amounts to gamesmanship and cheating. And he points out that only the women are doing it. Hmmm...can this be true? and, if so, why? Certainly there is the argument that the grunts serve as a timing device for players--certainly the case of Seles's grunt. But some players, champion Venus Williams, for example, vary their grunts depending on the situation. She was relatively quiet today compared to her semi-final against the woman who has been taking most of the heat for this grunting thing, Maria Sharapova. Sharapova has been recorded at 100 decibels but the length and volume of hers also vary.
So I am not sure what to make of this revival in grunting theory--I certainly will be monitoring the grunting habits of players of both genders. But as for charges of gamesmanship...I think they are baseless--especially given that we still live in a society that prefers its women--and certainly its female athletes--more on the quiet side.

1 comment:

EBuz said...

It should come as no surprise that women athletes get criticism for doing something so primal...dare I say "amazon" grunting. What is surprising is that they do it in the first place, given the social pressure on women athletes to overcompensate for their athleticism with hyperfemininity.