Dear Readers, here's a guest post from sportswriter and tennis fan David Fearnhead voicing his discontent with Maria Sharapova's screaming. Do you share his opinion?
Buried somewhere in the tennis rule book is an article on hinderance. It states that "If a player is hindered by an opponent then he or she wins the point, unless it's unintentional, in which case the point is replayed." Much of the implementation of this law is down to the umpire. There are obvious cases where this has been used. Remember the beads of Venus Williams’ hair falling out and spraying all over the court during the ’99 Australian Open, or more recently Elena Dementieva’s troublesome hat.
However an old adversary of the Women’s game is rearing its ugly head once more – grunting. I agree with Nick Bollettieri’s assertion that when you’re putting all into hitting the ball as hard as you can you are going to make some noise as you exhale, but there is a world of difference from these breathy strains and the outright screaming of some players.
Nobody expects players to remain completely silent. There should, however, be limits. Exhibit A for the prosecution would be the clash between the talented Czech player Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova and Maria Sharapova at this year’s Wimbledon. This third round match-up had everything for a thrilling encounter. Sharapova was finally coming back into form and Zahlavova-Strycova had just come through a three-setter in which she ousted the number 24 seed Daniela Hantuchova.
Sharapova took it in two sets, edging the first 7-5 followed by a more comfortable 6-3 in the second. However this does not tell the full story of the match. Sure at times it seemed like hawkeye was deliberately favouring Sharapova, and you have to applaud the Russian’s ability to read the lines and know when to challenge, but one niggling doubt over the legitimacy of that victory remains. On that afternoon number one court echoed to the constant screams of the 16th seed. These were not the strains of player trying to put every ounce of herself into every strike, but a seemingly deliberate attempt to destabilize her opponent. Read more »