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In Defense of the Grunt

Grunting has been a strange-but-alluring element of women’s tennis for years now, but apparently The Man disapproves. Specifically, the Wimbledon Man.

The latest representative of The Man is Ian Ritchie of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club—the venue for Wimbledon—who dropped this bomb to the Daily Telegraph earlier today: “We have discussed it with the tours and we believe it is helpful to reduce the amount of grunting.”

Well, Mr. Ritchie, we believe it is helpful to reduce the amount of your face.

We’re sorry; we’re getting emotional. But this one hits close to home.

First off, the power grunt isn’t decorative. It’s got a purpose: an extra vocalization of the explosive force being wielded against that poor tennis ball. And it’s hardly specific to racquet sports. If you expand it to any kind of kiai, it goes back hundreds of years—and if you ever stop by a judo exhibition, you’ll hear worse than anything at Center Court.

We’ll admit it takes some warming up to, but by now, we’re fully acclimated. And for anyone who isn’t…well, it’s only a matter of time. Once you’re accustomed, it adds a whole new visceral level to the game. We’ve become connoisseurs, comparing the cooing of an Azarenka to the decibel force of Ms. Sharapova. It’s chance for self-revelation, arriving at the moment of her greatest effort and control, a climactic instant of exertion...

But if Mr. Ritchie feels threatened by these muscular, grunting women, we suppose we understand.