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The Great Wimbledon Grunt Debate

1 July 2014 | 6:01 pm

There you are enjoying your strawberries and cream in the Wimbledon sunshine, when suddenly out of nowhere, a “blood -curdling scream” comes resounding out of Centre Court.

Is it a terrorist attack or even Cliff Richard offering to sing to the audience again? Then you remember Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are playing each other.

It never used to be like this, Virginia Wade never screamed, Martina Navratilova only used to shout at the Umpire; Chris Evert hit everyone off the court with just a knowing smile! So why has grunting become such a major part of women’s tennis? Not just a grunt, a full-throat, lung-bursting blast.

Grunting Regulation

Monica Seles is renowned as the first woman to make grunting famous — and fashionable, although not without considerable complaints. Seles was asked to not make her trademark noise when competing in the 1992 Wimbledon Championship. Subsequently, she ended up losing because she couldn’t adapt to the restriction.

The WTA are attempting to resolve the excessive grunting” by monitoring the noise level. Umpires will be equipped with handheld devices — nicknamed the “grunt-o-meter” — to decide who’s over grunting. Acceptable noise levels will be decided upon along with a non-grunting programme to educate future tennis stars.

The grunt-reducing plan is still not quite there yet. “There is more data to be gathered and more assessment to be done on the different audible levels,” WTA chief executive Stacey Allaster said last October. However, the current generation of female players, such as Sharapova who’s widely known as the loudest player on the court with shrieks that clock in at nearly 103 decibels along with the Williams sisters, won’t be affected by these new regulations.

Grunters 1Men of course grunt but their sounds are lower, with women definitely louder and more abrasive. Billie Jean King, the feminist sports icon, has also criticized grunting on the court. However, since it can’t be proven that women just naturally “grunt higher,” the push to ban female tennis grunting can’t help but be viewed as sexist by feminist and women’s sports advocates alike.

Sharapova has been accused of cheating before, using her ear-piercing to “distract” her opponents. But can she tone down her shrieking at the 2014 Wimbledon or will there be a new heir to the Grunting Throne?

We have used Attensity Q Social Listening to monitor what is being said across the Social Channels and to ascertain the publics perception of the Wimbledon Grunt Debate.

The following chart shows the Sentiment Trend over Match Day, building to a peak through both the Sharapova game and also the latest member to the grunting brigade, Miss Schiavone.

yesterday 2

This next Bubble-gram identifies a cross section of sentiment and terms of interest expressed throughout the same period. Colour coding identifying the Sentiment expressed with the bubble size expanding or decreasing in “Real-Time” as the individual interest level change.


Here are just a few snapshots of the associated articles that are part of the ongoing Wimbledon Grunt debate.

article 2

Please do keep tuned as we continue to monitor what the Social Channels are saying about the thrills and spills of 2014 Wimbledon Championships

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