British journalists, who behave even worse toward women than do journalists in my country (and that's saying something)--with the Wimbledon powers' blessing--have made "grunting" an issue during the 2011 Wimbledon tournament. Some of them, at least, have been accurate enough to write about "screaming" or "shrieking," which is really what the complaint is about. Grunting is something that Francesca Schiavone does. Screaming is something that Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka do. It all has to do with releasing energy, of course, but still, screaming is not grunting.
On the subject of actual grunting--I have heard people (so far, no journalists) complain about Schiavone. I've also heard people give Yanina Wickmayer a hard time for her signature "Whoopee!" yell that comes out when she strikes the ball. Oddly--and maybe I've just missed it--I haven't heard anyone complain about Caroline Wozniacki's "Oompah.."
Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer always grunt, but I've yet to hear any complaints about them.
I missed it, but apparently, during today's semifinals--which featured both Sharapova and Azarenka--a couple of patrons wore Please Ladies, No Grunting T-shirts. Are they going to wear Please Gentlemen, No Grunting shirts when they watch Nadal in his semifinal? If not, why?
It comes down to this: If opponents aren't bothered by screaming/shrieking/grunting, why should anyone else be bothered by it? I've heard several players say it doesn't bother them at all; I recall that one player complained about Michelle Larcher De Brito's screaming. And--assuming that noise-making is a problem, which I do not--where do you draw the line?
If actual grunting isn't permitted, then the ATP would have to address the issue--many male players grunt when they are playing, not just Nadal and Ferrer, who are well-known and who do it consistently. What about Jelena Jankovic's very quiet "Ai" when she's working hard with her racquet? If only "shrieking" is prohibited, who decides whether "Whoopee!" is a shriek, a grunt, or something else?
Where were all these complaining journalists when an about-to-be-inducted International Tennis Hall of Fame member yelled a sexual insult at a lineswoman and insulted the entire LGBT community? Where were they when numerous ATP players heaped continuous abuse on umpires? Oh, sure--they reported (some of) these things when they happened, but they didn't conduct an ongoing campaign, complete with dire predictions for the state of tennis, like the one we're seeing now about the oh, so unladylike (because that's what it boils down to, isn't it?) behavior of WTA players who add vocals to their groundstrokes.
I understand that some people don't like to hear screams and grunts (though I've yet to hear even one of those people complain about the grunting of male players). Fine. I don't like the mannerisms of some players, but I don't think that the WTA needs to "do something" about the particular "issue." If opponents were to consistently complain that the noises affected them, I'd pay attention. But I'm just not hearing that. Rather, I hear them say that they are too focused on their own tennis to bother about what someone else is doing.
I'm more offended by commentators and writers talking all the time about the screaming than I am about the screaming itself. It doesn't matter to me. (I prefer the tennis of 25 years ago, anyway.) When I was in Charleston in April, one of the best matches of the tournament was the quarterfinal contest between Wickmayer and Wozniacki. The consistent repetition of "Whoopee!", "Oompah" was actually part of the entertainment for me, and also part of the consistent rhythm that makes tennis so wonderful to watch--and hear.