Wimbledon head to grunting female players: Hush

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus returns a shot to Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova during their first round match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon Monday, June 20, 2011. AP Photo/Kirtsy Wigglesworth

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus returns a shot to Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova during their first round match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, June 20, 2011.
AP Photo/Kirtsy Wigglesworth

Last year at the World Cup, it was the vuvuzelas making all the racket.

This year at Wimbledon, it's Victoria Azarenka - and a handful of other tennis players who have been criticized for grunting too loudly during matches.

And now the head of Wimbledon is sounding off like a tennis umpire admonishing fans: Quiet, please.

Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, told the The Daily Telegraph Wednesday that women who grunt too loudly on the court are annoying their opponents - and the fans.

"The players have an ability to complain about it, if one player is grunting too much and the other player doesn't like it and it is distracting, they can complain to the umpire," he said. "We have discussed it with the tours and we believe it is helpful to reduce the amount of grunting."

Who are the main culprits? According to the Telegraph, Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, approached record noise levels with her grunting in her first round match against Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova.

Noise machines recorded her shrieks at a level of 95 decibels, the newspaper reports, and her grunts were not only loud but lengthy - exceeding 1.5 seconds each time she struck the ball.

Ritchie blamed younger players for the racket, saying there was an "education problem" about the noise issue.

"Certainly my postbag, if you say 'what do you get most letters about', I would say that grunting is high up," Ritchie told the newspaper. "So we are aware, whether you are watching it on TV or here, people don't particularly like it."

According to the Telegraph, Azarenka doesn't hold the claim as the loudest grunter. That decibel distinction goes to Maria Sharapova, who hit 105 on the sound monitor in 2009.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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