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The first tennis grunter

Steven LynchSeptember 14, 2013
A trio of grunters ... Monica Seles poses for photos with Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams before the US Open final earlier this month © AP
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Who was the first tennis player to "grunt" while playing shots? Was it Monica Seles? asked Martin Hancock

Monica Seles was certainly one of the first modern players to make a noise - let's call it exhaling loudly - on serving or playing other shots. I remember the tennis-loving actor and humorist Peter Ustinov observing, after one of Seles's noisier matches, that he hoped he didn't book the room next to hers on her honeymoon.

But actually the practice is much older than that: I recently read The Wizard, the biography of the 1907 Wimbledon champion Norman Brookes (Slattery Media Group, 2011), and the subject was mentioned in there. May Sutton, the American who was the first overseas winner of either singles title at Wimbledon in 1905, was apparently "one of the game's first grunters".

The Daily Telegraph referred to "Miss Sutton's 'little sighs', that were something in the nature of a 'sudden escape of compressed air', following most of her shots."

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