A Look At Grunting At Wimbledon

Originally published on June 22, 2011 9:40 pm
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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

It is day three of the Wimbledon grand slam. Serena Williams is back. All eyes are on Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. All British hearts are on native son Andy Murray and some English money, too, and ears, at least some high-profile ears, are trained on noise, and it is not a joyful noise.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAILING)

NORRIS: That's Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in a match earlier this year, wailing each time she slogs the ball over the net. At Wimbledon, her cries were measured at 95 decibels, and the head of Wimbledon is grumbling about it.

SIEGEL: Ian Ritchie told The Daily Telegraph: We would like to see less of it. We're assuming he meant we would like to hear less of it. The concern is that players concoct these noises as a weapon on the court to distract or to intimidate.

F: I can't change it. It's part of my breathing system, and it's just natural and something I've done since I was kid.

NORRIS: And back when Azarenka was a kid, a very young kid, Monica Seles was already winning titles and setting an example with her own grunts and shrieks.

(SOUNDBITE OF GRUNTING)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

U: Capriati played the match...

SIEGEL: In fact, the loudest measured grunt from a tennis player peaked at 105 decibels from Maria Sharapova. So we leave you with this, what you might call a tennis court conversation: Sharapova playing Victoria Azarenka.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAILING)

U: Come on.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.