Strange Crack-Down In Women’s Tennis

The WTA's odd plans to ensure some quiet during matches.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Move over NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — and your player safety issues. Take a seat NBA Commissioner David Stern — and your desire for teams to keep their stars. In fact, why don't we have every sport across the land step aside and let Women's Tennis Association chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster through, because she's a woman on a mission….

…a mission to take grunting out of the sport of women's tennis!

"It's time for us to drive excessive grunting out of the game for future generations," WTA chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster said.

That's right, in an attempt to clean up the one and only 'glaring' flaw in tennis, the WTA is instigating a plan to wipe out excessive and unwarranted noise with technology, rule changes and education. The umbrella scenario, which is what the plan is called, has been unanimously green-lighted this month at Roland Garros in Paris by representatives of the four majors, the International Tennis Federation and the WTA players' council.

The plan is set to include the following measures:

• The development of a handheld device — a kind of Hawk-Eye for noise — for umpires to objectively measure on-court grunting levels.

• A new rule setting acceptable and non-acceptable noise levels based on acoustical data gathering and analysis.

• Education at large tennis academies, national development programs and at all levels of junior and lower-tier professional events.

When asked if the portable device part of this plan would be akin to the grunt-o-meters sometimes used at Wimbleton to keep track of the noise made by repeat offenders such as Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, Allaster was somewhat evasive in her answer as well as dismissive of the term 'grunt-o-meter'.

"I'm not going to use that word," said Allaster, "The bottom line is that we want to bring forward across all levels of competition an objective rule through use of technology to make it much easier for athletes and chair umpires."

While there is no timetable to when this new system is to be put in place, it has been said that the current crop of tennis stars will not be affected by it, a decision the WTA made earlier this year.

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on

Photo Credit: AP