Three hindrance calls made against Virginie Razzano during her upset win over Serena Williams have rekindled the never-ending debate about grunting in tennis.
Eva Asderaki, the same chair umpire who called Serena for an infamous hindrance violation in last year's U.S. Open final, made the rulings in Tuesday's match. First, Razzano was hit with a warning because her shout was deemed unintentional. When Asderaki heard two more delayed shrieks over the course of the match, she awarded both points to Serena. One of them gave Serena a break point during the marathon 5-3 game in the third set.
When Serena was called for hindrance in September, it was because she intentionally shouted "come on!" during a point. The call against Razzano was due to a voluntary grunt. If Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova can get away with sustaining their shrieks throughout their opponents return, why can't Razzano?
That's the argument made by many over the past 24 hours, including Tennis Channel analysts Mary Carillo and Lindsay Davenport. They're not wrong, but they're not exactly right. The WTA needs to do something about grunting. The only sound that ruins my enjoyment of a sport more than Azarenka's shrieks is Jon Gruden's voice. But that issue has nothing to do with Razzano. She grunted, paused and then let loose with a new sound. Our collective hatred of grunting is obscuring that fact. Whether it should have been called is up to you. But it wasn't the same thing as a Sharapova grunt and shouldn't be compared to it.
Asderaki's anti-hindrance crusade had limited scope. In a Wednesday match, another French player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, shouted a profanity in the middle of a key point. Not only did the chair ignore it, but so did Tsonga's opponent.