The CEO of QANTAS, Australia’s national airline, and the oldest airline in the English speaking world dating back to 1920, Alan Joyce made a comment recently when he spoke of the new Airbus jets coming into the...
The CEO of QANTAS, Australia’s national airline, and the oldest airline in the English speaking world dating back to 1920, Alan Joyce made a comment recently when he spoke of the new Airbus jets coming into the QANTAS fleet. He said the new A320 NEO makes less noise than tennis players grunting. He went onto suggest that maybe there should be a curfew at Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open. Ouch! I’m not sure if that was a touch of his Irish humour but could that honestly be the case? Surely not! The topic of grunting, especially in women’s tennis has been dormant for a couple of weeks now but it will more than likely become a topic very soon, once more as the circuit hots up again and as we get immersed in the bulk of the clay season and head into the grass court events. Let me just say at the outset that I have become oblivious to the noise levels. Sometimes the decibels and shills and high octave sound register and I get amused, but generally speaking I don’t really hear it so much anymore. However, you hear more and more discussion on the subject. It has been fully acknowledged by the WTA Tour that it is a problem and there is the potential the constant grunting could be turning fans away from the sport. The absolute vast majority of the complaints are pointed at the women. There is no denying the men also grunt but the noise they make is more bass and is better camouflaged. I so remember the late, dear, old Ted Tinling saying about Monica Seles when she first came onto the scene: “God I’d hate to be in the room next to her on her wedding night.” The WTA has made it clear they will not do anything about the situation as it stands. They say that would be unfair. Unfair? In my mind that is a cop out. It is a weak stand. However, you can see why they will not do anything. It’s because they will be penalising so many of their biggest drawcards, the world’s top two, Vika Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, among them. One aspect of the grunting that amuses so many observers is that the players hardly seem to do it when they are practicing. Now why is that? The head of the WTA Tour Stacey Allaster says it’s the way the players were brought up with their tennis. That’s a finger being pointed to the coach Nick Bollettieri who says they only teach the players to breathe out when they hit the ball. Okay! “It is factual that there seems to be an increase in fan communication to me about some of the grunting,” Allaster said some time ago. “I wonder if technology is enhanced so much with digital that the volume has been turned up? It could be a part of the issue. Some of the athletes that were playing today were playing many years ago, and we didn't have an issue there.” Now that is amusing. The subject has not only just been raised, it’s been the case for years. It’s just got worse because more players are doing it. She added: “If this is a real issue, then it needs to happen for the next generation, the younger generation, and we will spend time with coaches to talk about it, to talk about why athletes are doing it, and does it need to be potentially at the volume that a few of the athletes are?” If the WTA Tour won’t do anything about it then why don’t the four Grand Slams, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open do something to make the point? They are independent and not controlled by the WTA Tour so if this is such a hot topic and the four majors are the centrepiece of the sport; maybe they should take the initiative. Don’t you think? Let them set the example for the women’s tour administration. Something tells me this subject will be pushed onto the back courts by the WTA. In the meantime fly the A320 NEO if heading to a women’s tennis event, you might appreciate the little extra time of silence. Let us at We Are Tennis know if grunting is an issue for you and what you want to see done about it.