`Too loud` Sharapova rebuffs scream quiz

Melbourne: Notoriously noisy Maria Sharapova slapped down questions over her loud shrieking after she was singled out for criticism during a push for quieter women`s tennis at the Australian Open.

As Swiss great Martina Hingis weighed into the controversy, Sharapova, described by rival player Agnieszka Radwanska as "just too loud", told a questioner that that "no one important enough" had told her to be quiet.

"You`ve obviously asked me this question before," Sharapova said.

"I`ve heard it a few times over my career.”
You`ve watched me grow up, you`ve watched me play tennis.

"I`ve been the same over the course of my career. No one important enough has told me to change or do something different.”

"I`ve answered it many times before, I`m sure I`ll answer it many more times ahead. I`m OK with that."

The Russian was speaking after the perennial issue of high-decibel grunting and shrieking returned to the fore at the Australian Open, prompting action from the Women`s Tennis Association (WTA).

The body, admitting that "some fans find it bothersome", said it was looking at ways to stop young players developing the habit.

"Everyone who watches tennis knows grunting is a part of the game, and we are aware that some fans find it bothersome," the WTA said.

"We are currently in the process of exploring how to reduce excessive grunting, especially for younger players just starting out, without adversely affecting players who have developed their game under the current training, rules and procedures."

Retired Hingis, who is playing the seniors event in Melbourne, said grunting was more noticeable by fans than players, but she admitted that some women`s noisy habits baffled her.

"It`s just sometimes when they were stretching a little bit more, you`re like: `What are you doing?` The more they had to stretch the louder it got," she said.

"Or sometimes it`s like a heavy grunt and it`s on the service line and the ball doesn`t have any weight on it. But I think it`s more of an issue with the spectators."

Debate has reached a crescendo after high-decibel Belarusian Victoria Azarenka`s distinctive squeal was mimicked by large sections of the Melbourne crowd during her win over Casey Dellacqua.

"Of course I hear it. I mean, I`m not deaf," Azarenka smiled, when asked if she had heard the taunts. "But it`s fine for me. I mean, I respect the crowd, whatever they do. I try to just be focused on my game."

Bureau Report

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