Grunts, Groans and Wimbledon Moans
The Sharapova Scream
Wimbledon fever is burning high.
There is nothing as refreshing as the sunshine, soft green turf, strawberries and cream, soaring balls ( ahem!) and short skirts.
There I was catching up on the day’s Tennis proceedings downstairs. I kept the volume down, so as not to disturb the rest of the household. But despite the reduced sound levels out emerged the rhythmic grunting from the sizzling star Sharapova.
At first a bearable squeal, then a forlorn shriek followed by a rhythmic uh- uh-unh.
I squirmed a little, uneasy at what it may sound like upstairs to those who were sleeping.
The Sharapova Scream
A Grunt Mash-up
Grunts and Groans may break my Bones
The cadence went higher, hitting 101 decibels ( trust me, it is official)
I punched the remote control in alarm. The rhythmic u-huh, aah and eaaaargh sounded not dissimilar to some other sound... a sound usually associated with a totally different ball game. You know what I mean! I didn’t want to be accused of watching ‘alternate entertainment’ usually starring Randy, Brandy, Amber or Sasha and not Sharapova, Serena, Azarenka or Kvitova.
For I tell you, the grunts and groans have invaded the gentle lawns of Wimbledon and they are here to stay.
And they could get me in trouble for all the wrong reasons.
So come join me my friends in a trip down the house of screams, grunts, groans and sighs,
Michell Larcher De Brito: The Screamer
Monica Seles TV Ad
Rise of the Scream Queens
Gone are the genteel British days of stiff upper lip, leisurely forehand and Pimms in the sunshine. The Scream Queens are here.While the Men's Grunts were occasionally protested ( Lendl complaining about Agassi at US Open) the women have taken the shrieks and groans to a whole new level.
At 101 decibels, Maria Sharapova is now officially the loudest. Although fellow tennis star Michelle Larcher de Brito is raising the bar as she was recently booed off the French open for sounding like a howling fox.The Williams Sisters are no strangers to grunts and screams either.
The honour of the original screamer, of course goes to Monica Seles. Her uh-heeerh, uh- heerh was so annoying that the normally peaceful Steffi Graf complained to the umpire that it was a distraction technique.
Monica Seles even parodied her own grunts in an American Express TV advertisement. uh- heerh, who is grunting all the way to the bank, eh?
Ex champ, Martina Navaratilova, never screamed. But then I didn't put her down as one anyway.
Why do they Grunt?
The Grunting epidemic has caught on well and truly. One wonders why the once genteel tennis courts, resonant with only the thwack, thwack of the rackets and the gentle oohs, aahs of appreciation from the crowds, are now sounding like orgy night at Emperor Caligula's palace ( Not that I know what the latter really sounded like, but one can imagine from the historical references of the goings ( and comings) on).
Some Tennis coaches say that this is an simple act of exhalation that follows physical exertion. I tried this at my Gym and was soon escorted out towards the cold showers. Apparently my anhhh, aaah.anhhh aaah. on the cross trainers was not endearing. Maybe I should try it at the Zumba class.
Others feel this is to unnerve the opponent. It must be truly distracting when all you expect is a thwack and a whizz of the ball coming towards you and instead you hear the banshee like scream. What next, a bowler rushing towards the batsman shouting wheeeeeeeee?
Faced by loud protests from television viewers, BBC has announced a device called Net Mix that allows viewers to adjust the sound levels so they can tune up the commentary and the thwack of the racket while tuning down the groans and screams.
The Master of Kiai
Battle cries are not new to Tennis. The Japanese have the term Kiai for the sound you make to unnerve the opponent. It may be a Hi-yah, a Aiyah!, a Eee-yah or a more reserved Hyah!
This short exhalation that may be uttered before or during a strike in martial arts refers to an inner gathering of energy that is released forcefully in a single explosion of sound.However, the emphasis here is not the sound but the focus and the concentration of energy. In certain Japanese martial arts, the students do not allow the Ki to escape.
The art of not letting your 'Ki' escape for prolonging the pleasure is also known as Tantric Sex. But that is another story, another hub.
Kiai is just an audible indication of good posture, powering up and proper breathing. Such lascivious screaming as done by our Tennis stars will be wasted energy.
The master of Kiai is of course the late lamented martial arts supremo, Bruce Lee.
In Japanese -Ki means mind , breath or spirit and -Ai means to unite. So perhaps the Sharapova scream is merely an indication of uniting her breaths. I said breaths, c'mon now!
Historically armies have attempted to Kiai their opponents. The approaching sound of a noisy army could shake even the bravest heart.
uh- hoooo, uhn hooo - Azarenka vs Sharapova
Anything you can do, I ...
waaarh -vs aaargh
Is it Legal?
There are no rules against grunting or groaning. It is left to the discretion of the umpires ( Some of whom seem to be enjoying being in the middle of the orgiastic outpouring).
There is a section in the official rules of the Lawn Tennis Association at Wimbledon that says ' if a player willfully hinders an opponent, points will be deducted. If it done unintentionally then the point will be replayed' .
The only known victim of grunting related tennis ban is poor little Lauryn Edwards, who at the tender age of 9 years old was banned from playing tennis at Mr Carmel Tennis club in Sunbury, Australia, after complaints from an opposition player. Boooo!
But it doesn't qualify what 'hindrance' is. And it says nothing about eeeeaaaargh.
With the crowds getting increasingly disgruntled, the quieter players protesting, maybe the rule will be amended.
I hope not, for I'll miss those screams, groans and grunts. For how else will I give an excuse for the noises coming from my television?
Altogether now, unnhaaaah unhaaaah.
Now, it reminds me of that famous scene in Katz Cafe....
Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2011
I'll have what she is having!
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Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2011
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