Tennis Grunting Banned 2012: Female Players Ordered to Quiet Down, Umpires set to Monitor Court Noise Levels

By Danica Bellini | Oct 01, 2012 01:19 PM EDT
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Thanks to numerous complaints to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) by annoyed fans, coaches, and other on-court competitors, the infamous (and sometimes distractingly loud) female tennis grunt may be banned as of 2012. Women tennis players of the next generation are being told to quiet it down on the court, and they will be trained to do so with the aid of WTA-hired umpires who will measure noise levels courtside with mechanical hand-held devices. While the ban may not pertain to current professional tennis stars, many well-known "grunters" (including Maria Sharapova) think the ban is a great idea and could really benefit the next crop of Wimbledon-inspired athletes.

Plans to muzzle and educate future female tennis grunters are already underway at major tennis academies - juniors and players at lower-tier tournaments have already begun to be trained to lower their decibel levels while out bashing the ball on the court. According to Grand Slam title holder Sharapova (whose personal tennis grunt has reached an outstanding 101 decibels), agrees that starting such training young is the way to go.

"Bottom line is the right answer has been taken by the tour," Sharapova recently told Reuters. "The information going towards coaches and academies that are developing talent from a young age is teaching them a certain breathing technique. Because when you start something from a young age and continue it, it's a habit -- whether you do grunt or don't grunt."

Sharapova goes on to explain that even though she believed the tennis grunting ban is a good thing, she's still happy that the injunction won't personally affect her game: "The WTA created a plan. That's the smart way to go about it, rather than like taking someone's forehand and grip in the middle of their career and telling them to change it."

Still, other popular female tennis stars seem to disagree. Nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova considers grunting "cheating, pure and simple," no matter how an individual is trained. The 55-year-old athlete would like the rule changed sooner rather than later, so it could apply to players already making a name for themselves in the competitive sport.

While he heatedly denies the rumors, famed tennis coach Nick Bollettieri has been accused of teaching the tennis "grunt" as a ploy to distract opponents. Bollettieri has trained a number of big-name women tennis players, including Sharapova, Monica Seles, and the Williams sisters (Venus and Serena). If that is truly the case, the tennis grunting ban would help to appease onlookers and broadcasters while simultaneously weeding out such seedy training.

What do WTA fans think of the tennis grunting ban?

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