IT TAKES some guts to try and shout down your sporting rivals – especially when you spend most of the year sharing something as intimate as a tennis locker room with them.
However, it’s hats off to world No1 Caroline Wozniacki for this week calling for a crackdown on the so-called ‘grunters’ in women’s tennis.
For a fair few years now there have been many who have expressed their misgivings on the ever louder ‘grunts’ made by some of the players on the WTA tour – though some of the noises are more like screams and Victoria Azarenka’s particularly high-pitched take on the ‘grunt’ has been described as sounding like ‘Mickey Mouse in distress’.
In England those doubts and criticisms obviously come to the fore when Wimbledon is on and the general basis for the distaste among the strawberries and cream set seems to be that it is unladylike.
However, Wozniacki has a far more technical reason for disliking facing a noisy opponent and she even went as far as to say ‘I think there are some players who do it on purpose’ suggesting it is a premeditated tactic to gain an advantage.
The Dane’s argument is that these players do not make the same noises in practice sessions and that the noise is used to disguise how hard they have hit the ball.
“If you grunt really loudly your opponent can’t hear how they hit the ball, and because the grunt is so loud, you think the ball is coming fast when suddenly the ball goes slowly,” explained Wozniacki.
I will have to take Caroline’s word on this one as, while I realise a ball hitting a tennis racket does make a certain sound, in my experience there are just two sounds and they are made by my own racket and generally gives away whether I have hit the ball with the nice stringy bit or, as is more often the case, with the frame.
Wozniacki is certainly being taken seriously with WTA officials agreeing that it is an issue that needs to be looked at.
But for the time being Wozniacki will probably just have to get used to an extra noise in her working life – a very audible groan from her ‘colleagues’ as she enters the locker room.