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The Grunt

It’s back, and—thanks to scream queens like Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters—it’s louder than ever before.


The Competitor: During long baseline rallies, female players resort to primitive methods: Hit the ball harder than she just did—and scream louder than she just screamed. Cue a tape of the Venus Williams–Maria Sharapova semi at this year’s Wimbledon.

The Macho Man: This powerful, bassy grunt is emitted as a player hits a sizzling winner past a hapless opponent. Often extended for several seconds—the equivalent of football’s end-zone dance—it’s a favorite of Lleyton Hewitt, one of the smallest men in tennis’s top ten.

The Smug Sigh: A forceful grunt expelled as a player winds up to smash, only to hit a feather-light drop shot just over the net—followed by expletives from the humiliated opponent. Often deployed by Über-grunter Fernando Gonzalez, the hard-hitting Chilean who shouted his way into Wimbledon’s quarterÞnals.

The Cry for Help: Less a grunt than a high-pitched moan of agony, usually employed by out-of-shape players late in a match—like Serena Williams during her loss to Jill Craybas in Wimbledon’s third round.

The Falsetto: More like a screech, employed by players lunging to make an all-but-hopeless shot on the run. Martina Hingis made this grunt famous, but Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick employ their own high-pitched version, too.


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