'Grunt-ometers' to cut tennis noise
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.
The plans, agreed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and representatives from the four grand slams, are not likely to be introduced in the immediate future, but will be a long-term effort to encourage players to curb their noise.
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. This is a start of a sport-wide plan responsibly dealing with the issue through player education and objective rule changes."
Grunting in women's tennis has long been a talking-point, with some players and fans complaining about the noise.
World number one Maria Sharapova is known as one of the noisiest women in the sport, her shrieks sometimes exceeding 100 decibels.
And Sabine Lisicki accused opponent Bojana Jovanovski of grunting so loudly on Wednesday it gave her an advantage in their Wimbledon match. Lisicki beat Jovanovsky, but complained to umpire Mariana Alves about the noise.
After the game 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 plans are not expected to be introduced imminently, but the All England club agreed they are a good idea. A spokesman said there is "recognition throughout the game that this will be something that will be helpful".