Good morning everyone!
I’ve just returned from a working holiday in Spain. I was actually working for myself doing some maintenance on our house near Archidona/Antequera in Malaga province. On the way there to pass some time I wrote some notes for my blog but never got round to posting them because our internet connection there is not too clever. Anyway, I had been watching tennis at the French Open and I was really rooting for Serena Williams in the final. I had watched a lot of tennis from the tournament and had become heartily sick of the squeaking, grunting, groaning and shouting by both men and women but most annoyingly, the women who seem to have taken the concept of the grunt to the nth degree.
(of a person) make a low inarticulate sound, typically to express effort or indicate assent.“the man cursed and grunted as he lassoed the steer”
I think the men demonstrate a more pure form of ‘the grunt’, it being low and a more obvious (to me) result of effort where the women tend to shriek or scream in a habitual sort of way. Monica Seles has been credited as being one of the first ‘grunters’ and many have followed, notably Francesca Schiavoni, Victoria Azarenka and of course Maria Sharapova.
I don’t know if there is an element of gamesmanship in ‘the grunt’ or if there is evidence in the coaching manual that suggests it is of value in some physical or psychological way. Certainly Martina Navratilova has been known to comment on her opponent’s grunting , suggesting that it interfered with her ability to hear the ball leaving the racket. I just know that I do not enjoy listening to a match that is dominated by shrieks and screams. Imagine Sharapova and Azarenka playing each other? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!
Dr Victor Thompson, who is a clinical sports psychologist states that grunting is more about the fact that breathing out hard and grunting when taking a shot, as if completing a bench press for example, helps to apply maximal force. Can’t argue with that I suppose but I refer you back to the original definition.
I suppose the argument that the grunt is now an acceptable part of modern tennis is that the game has changed and it is played at a faster pace and the balls are hit harder, hence added exertion. Well, Martina used to hit the ball pretty hard but I don’t recall her grunting too much.
Wimbledon 2015 is almost here. I have attended the tournament many times. My sister and I used to have a holiday for the first week of the tournament and go down to SW19, staying at the Trochee Hotel . We would be up and in the queue for tickets at 4am, always being quite near to the front and guaranteed tickets for the Show Courts. We had some great times sitting in the queue, meeting people from all over the world and sharing our love of tennis through great conversation. On more than one occasion we have procured tickets or entry into Wimbledon from our place in the queue, even at one time sharing a spot with some photographers after an AA man got us in for nothing. Saw the great Bjorn Borg that day. The emphasis is more on the public ballot nowadays. You can still queue but you have to be there for days rather than hours for a chance of success. They were great times and we saw all the tennis greats of the 70s 80s and 90s during our visits. We would have our routine for getting the most out of our day. Firstly, get tickets we wanted, second, hightail it to the Champagne and Pimms tent to partake of a little liquid refreshment, usually a couple of Pimms but sometimes Champagne. This would be followed by either an ‘Oscar’, which was a 12inch long hot dog or smoked salmon sandwiches and the inevitable strawberries and cream. I remember paying £5 for 5 strawberries but would have paid more because it was just part of our visit. Those were indeed happy days. We stopped going when it became apparent that in the future we would have to queue overnight (and miss the luxury of the Trochee Hotel) and that we would probably have to take out a mortgage to be able to finance a weeks trip. Our visits now are confined to the rare occasion we get tickets from the ballot.
So, Serena won the French Open but I’m not sure she’s playing well enough to win Wimbledon. Time will tell. Good luck to everyone who’s taking part and anyone who’s going, have a great time. Come on Andy!