It’s a fact, the grunts of the WTA female players leave no one indifferent. On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the game that forced the world of tennis to address the issue - the famous Roland Garros final...
It’s a fact, the grunts of the WTA female players leave no one indifferent. On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the game that forced the world of tennis to address the issue - the famous Roland Garros final between Steffi Graf and Monica Seles in 1992 – we investigate the origins of this phenomenon.
"Today, we must admit that there is no longer that much discomfort on the issue, it even has become fairly common" Nathalie Tauziat puts us at ease. The former world number 3 recognizes that even asking questions on the subject has nothing inappropriate "I don’t know if it helps tremendously, but we must acknowledge that when they shout, it gives off something. But to say that it actually help moving the ball..." Yet they are many to believe it. It should be said that a study by Dennis O'Connell, a professor of physiotherapy at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene (Texas), shows that the speed of service increases by more than 6.4 km/h when a player shouts when he hits the ball. Furthermore, Canadian psychologists have demonstrated that a tennis player take longer to react in the presence of noise and that decisions also then seemed more difficult. To hell with fair play, no holds barred.
"This is a kind of theatrical drama but slightly more complicated” says Erkki Bianco, voice specialist in Paris, “There is something that is naturally allowed to escape, but that instinctively we wouldn’t let. It's like burping or farting. It’s natural but normally one shall refrain. There, they use this shout almost like an attribute of strength, virility". Tauziat easily agrees with this, her who saw the difference between Monica Seles in a match and Monica Seles in training: "One day I saw her arrive on the court next to us to hit the ball. I thought that this was going to be a nightmare, that I should have brought earplugs. After a few minutes, I realize I wasn’t hearing anything. So I stopped, I looked at her and she was playing as hard as she was doing in her matches. But oddly, without making a sound...”
To haemorrhage of the vocal cords?
Yet, there are risks to indulge in this little game "It can be dangerous to the person who shouts because it can irritate the vocal cords” warns the specialist of voice disorders. “There is a kind of dehydration due to the exercise that is performed at the same time. And then they usually don’t know how to shout and exhale the air at the same time, what makes their strings very tight. Theoretically, we could go to a haemorrhage of the vocal cords if they force too much”. There are also reasons to get his opponent all mixed up on the court. "Now it became so banal that in order to surprise your opponent, it would take you to start yelling unexpectedly. But it’s not obvious. Even if the game is not always very clever in women's tennis, now it’s very fast, you cannot improvise" says Nathalie Tauziat.
"And then there’s the mimicry” continues the woman that now works for the Canadian federation. “Little girls want to do everything like their idols. I was coaching that one girl who went to do a three-month internship in the United States. When she came back, she was shouting to every balls!" Venus Williams also confessed that he started screaming because her idol Seles was doing the same. What lay to rest all the sexist jokes surrounding these roars: the tennis women are just like other women, fashion victims.
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