Tennis grunting ban: Why it gets Maria Sharapova's support (+video)
Tennis grunting ban: Maria Sharapova's screams have been measured at more than 101 decibels. Martina Navratilova calls grunting "cheating, pure and simple" and wants tennis to ban it sooner rather than later.
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ENJOY THE SCREAMS
Fans in Tokyo last week were divided on the subject of grunting, made famous by Monica Seles in the 1990s.
"I like it when Sharapova screams," said 27-year-old dental assistant Saeko Hasebe. "It's part of the fun. They shouldn't ban it."
Businessman Makoto Taniguchi disagreed.
"It's too noisy," the 38-year-old said after an Azarenka ear-bashing. "I've only been here for two hours and I've got a splitting headache."
Pan Pacific Open winner Nadia Petrova rejected claims grunting was a deliberate tactic and predicted it would take a long time for the WTA to change the rules.
"It can be enforced, but it's something very difficult to do," said the Russian. "The players have been doing it since they were little and (had) been taught to do this.
"It's difficult to change after so many years. There are a few players obviously who are a little bit overboard with their grunting.
"I think the main reason is some coaches say the larger you grunt the more air you let out of your lungs to actually execute the stroke harder so you can hit harder.
"I guess that's why. That's the only explanation I have. I don't think they even realise how loud they get."
Studies back up Petrova's theory that the squealers are not faking, claiming that yelling can give people an energy boost or increase adrenalin.
This year's London Olympics were a festival of grunting, with fencers screaming, stomping and whipping off their masks to prance and preen after a successful point.
Yet controversy rages over women's tennis.
Critics are accused of sexism, given grunting is hardly restricted to the women.
"Maybe it's just not as high-pitched so you kind of don't worry about it," said Stosur.
British number two Heather Watson claimed not to have noticed Sharapova's cacophony during a three-hour marathon with the Russian last week.
"I think I'm just too used to it," said Watson, who also trains at the Bollettieri academy and works with Sharapova's former coach Mauricio Hadad.
"I know some players don't like it. But most girls grunt so I really don't take much notice."
(Editing by Ossian Shine)
Making a Difference