To Grunt or Not To Grunt? The Great Tennis Question


Professional sports are all about the competition.  As a mother, I would love to think that my children can grow up to be professional athletes and sprinkle rainbows and fairy dust on the field to make both sides of the team feel calm and at ease while playing against each other.  But the reality is that most people are drawn to watch professional sports because of the competitive spirit.

Do you think that when the New York Giants played the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl that the offensive line was complimenting the defensive line on how nice they look in their team’s jersey or how lovely the weather was on game day?  No!  Chances are they were smack-talking each other and trying to distract the linemen from the other team.

Do you think David Wright (who is a third baseman with the New York Mets), stands on third telling the player that just made it to the base, “good luck man, I bet you can make it home” or “don’t you hate how dirty your pants get when you slide? That orange dirt is so hard to get out of your baseball pants.” No, more than likely he is encouraging him to go ahead and try to steal or run on a bad ball so Wright can get him out.  

Professional sports involve a game of psyching each other out.  Players look to their teammates or the fans, not their competitors, to be their cheerleaders.  People don’t pay to watch players being nice to each other on the field or court; they pay to see a game, which includes smack talk, fast plays, and even the occasional grunt to throw off their opponents.  

Lately there is a controversy brewing over the right to grunt during a tennis match.  Grunting is more common in women’s tennis, although Jimmy Connors was a known grunter during his day.  The Williams sisters and Monica Seles are well known for their grunting.  Some tennis greats, such a Martina Navratilova call grunting a form of cheating, while Serena Williams says she doesn’t even realize she is grunting because she is so into the game.  She says it doesn’t affect her game because she is so focused on the match.

I had a hard time keeping a straight face when I heard that this was even an issue.  I am the person who goes to the gym (albeit maybe once a year) and laughs when I see grown men picking up a weight a grunting and groaning.  It always strikes me as ironic that I can lift 50 pounds of groceries out of my car, grab my youngest as he tumbles over from missing the front step, keep the dog from running out the door, and never drop a thing or grunt while I’m doing it.  Who really cares if tennis players grunt when they hit the ball?

I did think it was funny to read that a lion’s roar is 110 decibels.  Maria Sharapova has been recorded grunting during a match at 101 decibels.  That woman sure can grunt! 

The question has been raised that perhaps there should be a device that monitors the grunts so that players can be given a warning if they grunt too loudly.  That seems ridiculous.  First of all, if the crowd at a tennis match would make some noise, the grunts wouldn’t seem so loud.  Perhaps this is the reason why at football and baseball games we don’t notice the loud grunting that goes on.  What about at a track meet?  When the high jumper pushes off to get maximum lift, do you think he is totally silent?  Probably not, but we can’t hear his grunt from the noise of the crowd.

Until the crowd goes quiet and everything on the field goes to nice, sweet talk, I call foul on trying to quiet the grunting that goes on in a tennis match.  Let the players make noise and if an opponent can’t deal with it, let them get some ear plugs!

If you can answer the question of “to grunt, or not grunt” or have an opinion that you would like to quietly share, email them to or visit Follow me on Twitter @TLHmoms and like us on Facebook at




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