Sportsister’s Lizzie is a former professional tennis player. Now she focuses her spare time on running but she still follows the tennis circuit regularly and has plenty to say, when it comes to the most recent debate in the women’s game.
This weekend saw the close of the first of this year’s Grand Slam event, the Australian Open, and I can’t help but feel angered at the media attention that has circulated the subject of the women’s grunting.
Having followed tennis for years, it is not a particularly new topic for me to hear about, however the WTA have now confirmed that they are in the process of “exploring how to reduce excessive grunting, especially for younger players just starting out, without adversely affecting players who have developed their game under the current training, rules and procedures”.
The topic has been exceptionally hot this year at the Australian Open with the two finalists, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azerenka, being excessive grunters. Did you know that this year’s final decided not only that Azerenka took home the title, but also that she took hold of the world number one position? Possibly not, as discussions appear to be elsewhere, not on the game, but on problems that certain women are causing for fellow players and viewers.
Firstly, when addressing the viewers who complain, my opinion is that sport should be for the athlete and not by any means should he or she change their expression of performance in order to please those watching.
At times, I can’t help but feel that those watching are suggesting that women should just keep quiet, wear their skirts and not make a fuss. (Sorry, my anger towards the London 2012 boxing skirts debate is creeping out there – that is a WHOLE separate issue!)
Secondly, what about the men? The men on the circuit are also partial to grunting and so surely it shouldn’t just be the WTA that takes action but also the ATP? To my knowledge, no such complaints have been made. The likes of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have just as much loud huffing and puffing and moaning on court but I don’t hear a word said about that.
Watch this video below of the match point between Andy Murray and Michaël Llodra at this year’s Australian Open. Murray’s moans appear to be enough a distraction for Llodra to mock.
When it comes to addressing the complaints made by fellow players, from what I can see and also from my own experience as a player, if you are player who is winning everything is fine, if you are a player who is losing however, you seek to blame anything that could be of distraction.
Just this week at the Australian Open, Agnieszka Radwanska said that her opponent’s grunts were too loud after she was beaten by Victoria Azarenka. Fellow shrieker herself Maria Sharapova commented on this, “Isn’t she back in Poland already?” My point exactly.
The importance and pressure of a competitive match is no doubt going to bring out the very most that a player has to offer, and if that means she grunts, she shrieks, she huffs and puffs to give her all, in my opinion, she’s just doing her thing, so leave her be.
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
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