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Navratilova: Punish the grunters

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:39

The nine-times Wimbledon singles champion, who is playing in the invitational doubles event this year, was speaking out amid growing criticism of the trend at Wimbledon.

Navratilova told wimbledon.org: “There’s no reason to be making that noise when you hit a ball. We’re not lifting 200 pounds over our heads and, quite frankly, I think it’s counterproductive.”

Plenty of focus has fallen on Michelle Larcher de Brito, the teenage Portuguese player who defended her right to grunt last week.

But many female players, in particular, have been repeat offenders and Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva were both grunting loudly during their semi-final match on Thursday.

“I would actually suggest to my player: ‘You’re actually making it worse for yourself’. I would be coaching my player not to do it,” Navratilova added.

“Never mind it’s against the rules, it’s all bad for my player. When they’re yelling that loudly, it’s a hindrance.

“The umpire needs to step up to the plate and tell them to stop. And if they don’t, it should be a point penalty. I can guarantee you that once they start giving out point penalties they will stop doing it.”

Navratilova has previously claimed players are “cheating” when they grunt, which has been disputed.

But she said: “The fact of the matter is that the grunting – it’s not even grunting, it’s shrieking – has got to subside, if not disappear all together because it is not necessary.”

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