An open letter to WTA CEO Stacey Allaster:
I guess I never knew it before this year’s Australian Open, but I am done with all the shrieking and screaming being bellowed from the lungs of certain WTA Tour players. Done. I really can’t stand it anymore. The shrieking performed at this year’s Aussie open broke the proverbial camel’s back.
I’ve always thought that Victoria Azarenka’s and Maria Sharapova’s over-the-top shrieking was mildly amusing – even entertaining. Back in the day of their emergence as top players, their vocal persuasions were quite entertaining. I read of fans and even players complaining, but I guess I just kind of laughed it off as part of the show. It was never as bad as it is now. Something has changed. It irritates the hell out of me now. Perhaps it’s desperation. Perhaps it’s gamesmanship.
Now, it’s gotten to the point of being totally annoying to the viewer – and a hindrance to the opponent. Remember Serena Williams’ hindrance warning at the U.S. Open when she yelled “Come on!” as Sam Stosur was hitting the ball? That was a hindrance call. Now, I firmly believe that both ‘Shrieka’ and ‘Screamapova’s shrieking is also a hindrance. Both of those unnecessary shrieks reverberate well past the point of contact to the other side of the net when the opposing player is getting set to hit the return (or even hitting it). That is a hindrance call and should be treated as such.
There is also the sonically unpleasing sounds that both of them make. I can’t enjoy the match they’re playing without getting irritated at the sounds. Like I said before: once it was entertaining, even amusing. Now, it’s downright irritating. Imagine what it sounds like in the stadium they’re playing in, or even at court level? Unbelievable.
Monica Seles was the first tennis player to break the sound barrier. I remember players complaining about her grunt. At Wimbledon one year, she was forced not to grunt. She still managed to hit the ball. At least Seles’ grunt was just that – a grunt, not a scream. It was also short and compact. It started just before she hit the ball and ended as she hit the ball. It did not follow the ball over to the other side of the court and definitely not while the other player was getting ready to hit the return.
It’s going to take some real leadership from the WTA to put an end to this. So far it’s been a bunch of hemming and hawwing over the matter. The shrieking really detracts from their skills as a tennis player. It’s getting to be seen a just another way for them to win – a crutch, and an underhanded one at that.
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