1. ITV Report

How excessive grunting in tennis could soon be silenced

Russia's Maria Sharapova in action against Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova Photo: PA

Women tennis players could be forced to curb their grunting with plans for new rules and "grunt-ometers" on court.

Bosses in the tennis world are supporting plans to drive excessive grunting out of the game, which could see umpires at grand slams such as Wimbledon use handheld devices to assess how loud shrieks are.

Russia's Maria Sharapova who has a reputation on court for her loud 'grunting' Credit: PA

Maria Sharapova, who beat Tsvetana Pironkova today, said it was too late for her to change her style, but thought helping youngsters develop as players without grunting was "smart".

The 25-year-old top seed is known to reach more than 100 decibels during her match play.

Asked if she could do something to her technique to reduce the noise she makes, she said:

Certainly not now, not since I've been doing it since I was four years old. It's definitely tough and impossible to do when you've played this sport for over 20 years.

I'm really happy with the system that she put forth. Going to the juniors, going to the academies that are producing the young players, and putting a system in place, I think it's extremely smart.

In a statement, the WTA said:

The WTA, ITF, and Grand Slams aim to drive excessive grunting out of the game, while ensuring that we do not drive our current generation of players - who were taught to play this way - out of the game.

Bojana Jovanovski during her first round match at Edgbaston Priory Club Credit: PA

Grunting in women's tennis has long been a talking-point, with some players and fans complaining about the noise.

And yesterday at the Wimbledon Championships Sabine Lisicki accused opponent Bojana Jovanovski of grunting so loudly it gave her an advantage in their Wimbledon match.

Lisicki beat Jovanovsky, but complained to umpire Mariana Alves about the noise. She said:

It was distracting. You usually hear the sound of the ball, but I couldn't really hear it because of her grunting. But that's why we have the rules, the hindrance rule. So that's what I talked about to the judge.

The women's tour's hindrance rule allows an umpire to take action at their discretion if, as the rule states, "a player hinders her opponent" but there was no punishment in this case.

The decision, made earlier this year by the WTA, could include the development of a handheld device similar to a "grunt-ometer" for umpires to measure on-court grunting levels, as well as new rules setting noise levels.

There is no timetable for the plans but future Wimbledon tournaments could be much quieter places.

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