Women’s Tennis Association to start regulating women’s grunting

8 July 2012

Dear International Tennis Federation/ Women’s Tennis Association,

I am writing to thank you sooooo much for your soon-to-be-implemented grunt-o-meter, to be utilized only in women’s tennis matches to make sure those ladies stop screaming so loudly during their matches! (And thank you soooo much for the fact that this is not a joke! I have been reassured by some guy who writes for Business Insider that this is not sexist for being a rule that won’t apply to men!)

Ever since the days of Monica Seles (whose pro career took off in 1989) I’ve been complaining that those screeches are no fun for me to listen to as I sit on my sofa and watch! Thank you so much for finally bowing to negative fan and media reaction by slowly implementing this new plan!

Their grunts have made it particularly disturbing for me to watch all-star blonde hotties like Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka — the current world #1 and #2. I mean, how can I enjoy their beauteousness if they let loose animalistic screams after every shot? And who, I ask, is tennis for if not for me and my ideas about how ladies are supposed to behave?

Now, I’m not a petty person. After much consideration I have also developed another argument besides “it’s annoying” for eliminating lady-screeching: their grunting must be distracting to their opponents, perhaps even amounting to a form of gamesmanship. Or at least that’s what I heard a commentator say one time.

To express my gratitude, I’d like to recommend that you look into several other matters that are exactly equivalent to the screaming issue — equivalent, that is, in that they bother me. Remember: the customer is always right!

1. Andy Murray’s facial hair. Now, I don’t like to be mean-spirited, but I think we can all agree that Murray could be at least a slightly more appealing-looking figure if he’d engage in a little more personal care. Staring at the hair growing all over his neck is surely distracting to other players as well, perhaps amounting to a form of gamesmanship. But what do I care about how other players feel? It’s nasty to me personally. (Also, the teeth. Don’t they have orthodontists in Scotland?)

2. Rafael Nadal’s ritualistic routine before each point. One writer reckons that this routine has eleven steps (although sometimes a single step has several parts to it, like #5: “Wipe your nose, then your forehead, then tuck your hair behind your left ear, then your right. In that order”). Eleven steps?! some of which sound like this?! Criminey!

Now, I don’t really care whether Nadal’s superstitious — what I care about is my own precious time! His matches take forever! I mean, honestly, that 2012 Australian Open men’s final took five hours! I have other things to do!

3. Players who curse or talk to themselves in their native languages. Now, as hard as it is for many Americans to believe that other people grow up speaking something other than English, I speak for all of us when I say that I want to know exactly what it is that those Belorussian or Chinese players are saying to themselves when they finish a point and spew out a line of something.

Please see what you can do to institute an all-English language rule so we Americans don’t need to feel excluded when a player has a lot to say to him/ herself during a match. It’s rude, and rudeness should not be permitted in a genteel sport like tennis!

4. And speaking of people who slow down the game, let’s talk about players who slow down the pace of play even when they’re not serving. The rules of play require that they move at the speed of the server, but chair umpires appear unwilling to reprimand players who refuse to go along. It’s yet another way that players use to get inside one another’s heads.

5. And speaking of people who try to get inside their opponent’s heads, what about those often off-camera incidents that indicate the far more serious inter-personal battles that take place on court? The nasty comments that only the other player hears; the body checks when they switch sides; the evil glares; the locker room drama. Why focus on grunting as a form of gamesmanship when the entire sport is full of it? Because … it is a sport, after all!

If you want to stick with the “let’s police female behavior” theme, perhaps you could institute a Nice-O-Meter that players have to pass.

Also, shouldn’t all the female players just smile a lot more? Tell them they’ll do better on the Nice-O-Meter if they smile and look prettier on the court.

Anyway, this is all to say “cheers” to you for inventing the idea for the new grunt-o-meter, and don’t let this be the only way you interfere with players’ concentration and intensity during matches! So what if grunting actually fosters focus during matches, as Katy Waldman argues (very effectively)? I say that the ladies must be reminded of their lady-ness as much as possible! And I’ll be sure to write again when I’ve got more useful recommendations for you!

Hugs and kisses,


9 Responses to “Women’s Tennis Association to start regulating women’s grunting”

  1. Aldine Says:

    Personally, I’m offended by the sight of women sweating. Can the Federation please do something about this issue?

    I also feel annoyed every time I hear that screeching sound that tennis shoes make when the players pivot. Do the ladies really have to run around so much that they sweat and screech?

    And I totally disagree with your earlier post about ‘natural’ hair, Didion. We all know that the current crop of tennis ladies are sadly lacking in the hair department. If the Federation really cared about its viewers, it would bring back the bouffant and make hair accessories mandatory.

    • Didion Says:

      Let’s come up with a petition.

      I also think tennis would be improved if the ladies wore bikinis.

  2. Didion,
    Thank you for doing a post on this. I just heard this story on NPR yesterday morning.

  3. servetus Says:

    Totally agree on the personal rituals. Watching that makes me start to feel obsessive-compulsive and go on tv to do mine.

  4. JustMeMike Says:


    Geez why not completely revamp tennis – If grunting is annoying to the fans in the stadiums and arenas watching the matches, and equally annoying/distracting to the opposing player on the courts, there are remedies.

    Allow jeering, booing, and equally distracting noises from the fans in the stands OR the opponent receiving the serve. As the server tosses the ball into the air – let the opponent scream out something – or any thing.

    Allow the stadiums to have vendors going up and down the aisles. If Novak Djokovic can bend forward and bounce the ball 8 times before each and every serve – let’s be able to buy something during that down time. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to buy a beer while seated in the stands. BE-AH! GETCHA BE-AH! Hey buddy – Gimme two!

    Require woman tennis players to dress with more decorum – like long sleeves, long skirts, and sun bonnets. As for the men – tennis whites as in long pants and cable stitched V-neck short sleeved sweaters. As long as we are doing away with grunting, let’s do away with comfort and style as well.

    Allow more free style actions by the ball boys and girls. What we have now is boring, repetitive, and robotic. On second thought, let’s do away with them completely. Let the players pick up their own. Maybe they will be too tired to grunt.

    Let do away with the Umbrella over the umpire in the chair. Let him bake in the sun like everyone else. And since you mentioned it – let’s require pendant or pin microphones on the players that way we won’t miss anything muttered.

    Where’s Bud Collins when you need him.

    • Didion Says:

      JMM, as usual you’re full of such excellent recommendations! I say, the more tennis matches start to resemble basketball games, the better — the hooting, the hollering, the fans with long wiggly distraction tubes in their hands for serves….

      And naturally I agree on clothing. If only we could bring back the corset.

  5. Irene Says:

    How can grunting be stopped it is a sport. Many of the men grunt and many of the women grunt. It is sexist to comment on the pitch of women and discriminative.

    • Didion Says:

      Exactly! It’s stupid to make the argument that women are somehow more annoying than men, as such a claim only reveals ideas about how women are supposed to be.

  6. Naomi Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: