It's time to give grunt the punt: Martina
Not sure if this has been posted before..
By Martina Navratilova
MONICA SELES may have started it back in the late 80s, but now it's time to end it. The one thing I want the tennis establishment to make as a rule in both the men's and women's games is: No Grunting.
The most interesting thing about the women's final was how quiet it was.
Serena and Venus were both stretched wide and hard and made a few grunts but overall they were pretty quiet. Serena and Venus are much louder when playing against other people. That shows you that it's a choice. What's happening now is that the juniors, in both boys and girls, are emulating the big players.
It's not good for the game -- it's distracting to the fans. They don't like it. I know people push the "mute" button on the television but if you're courtside you can't do that.
It can be used as an intimidation factor, which I don't have a problem with. You can grunt all you want, but you still have to hit the shot. But the grunting becomes a problem when it gets really loud, and you can't hear the ball hitting the racquet.
You depend on that sound to determine how hard the ball was hit and where it's going. And you have no idea how much you rely on that sound until it is gone. You first hear how hard the ball has been hit, then you see it. When there's a mishit, you hear it first, then you see it. I might be at the net, but if the opponent is making that much noise I have no idea how well he or she really hit the ball -- that's a huge disadvantage.
If you doubt my view, put on headphones and play loud music while playing tennis, and feel the impact of losing one of your senses.
It's no accident there are no deaf tennis players out there.
From an aesthetic point of view, grunting is not pretty and it's not necessary.
They should just ban it or penalise it and people would quieten down immediately, because most players are really quiet when they're practising.
Boy, I went off on a tangent there ... enough.
I rarely brag, but I called both winners -- Andre Agassi and Serena Williams -- although the men's final wasn't too hard. Rainer plays the same way as Andre, only Andre does everything better.
It's like when I played Zina Garrison. She tried to play the way I did and while she did very well, I did everything a little better.
That's the same with Rainer. With Andre it's like looking at a mirror image but it's a much bigger image Rainer is seeing.
Andre probably wants to play more serve and volleyers so he can have a contrast.
His only challenge in Melbourne was Nicolas Escude, who took a set off him in the third round.
Andre said he would keep playing as long as he went into a tournament feeling nervous. I like that -- it shows he cares.
I want him to push the envelope, see how far he can go. Okay, he's 32, but if he was playing this standard of tennis at 25 he wouldn't even think of retiring.
People keep looking at his age, and I know that feeling. I was being asked at 26 how long I would keep playing. So Andre has to be prepared for all the "how long will you keep going?" questions. I just hope he doesn't get tired of answering. And he'll get them even more if he starts to lose.
So Andre, keep winning. We love watching you, and we can learn from you: how you keep your body going so well.
He's faster and stronger and wiser than he was at 22. He has the enjoyment, the passion for tennis and definitely the ability. If his body keeps going then his age shouldn't come into play.
Serena's victory was truly amazing. I suppose some might be thinking can she win three more and have a calendar-year grand slam. I think she should worry about getting to five, and that's probably how she's thinking as well.
The French Open is the trickiest.
Clay is different -- being a slower surface doesn't necessarily help a hard hitter. And Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Monica Seles are such good clay courters.
But Serena does have the goods and if she does win the next three then she's got the all-time record. (Navratilova is tied with Margaret Court in having six consecutive grand slam singles titles.) Serena said she wanted to win everything in 2003, and she has survived this one. She could have gone in the first round and again in the semi and in the final. But at the end of the day she was the last one still standing.
I know some people say an all-Williams final is bad for tennis, but compare it to the men's final to get some perspective. The women had three sets of high-quality tennis, where the winner was never a sure thing. In the men's final it was obvious after the first set Andre had it.
When Andre's playing this well on hard courts, he can only been challenged by a Pete Sampras or a Patrick Rafter.
I saw Pat yesterday morning. He looks fabulous as does his son Joshua. And I got a good luck kiss from Joshua so I knew the tennis gods would be smiling at me.
I'd like to come back and defend my mixed doubles title next year.
So kudos to Serena for her slam and to Andre for making it look so easy. A job very well done. Now it's time for Steffi to start practising some deuce court returns for her mixed doubles with Andre in Paris! I hope to see her there with my partner Leander Paes.