Evert: Shrieks distract from matches

SYDNEY -- Tennis great Chris Evert has
joined the chorus of complaints about the noise level in
women's tennis, saying the "grunting" was getting out of hand.

Evert stopped short of joining former rival Martina
Navratilova in labelling the practice as cheating, but agreed
it had reached unacceptable levels.

"Grunting is one thing but the shrill sound that you hear
with players nowadays, and especially they get louder when they
hit a winner, that's the thing that I observe as a player," the
former world No. 1 told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

"It comes before they hit the shot. That's the first thing
you hear and you are kind of like thrown off guard as a player
and then before you know the ball gets past you."

Evert is visiting Sydney with her husband Greg Norman, who
announced he would play in the Australian Open golf
championship for the next three years.

"It is distracting when you are hearing this and I think
the grunts are getting louder and more shrill now with the
current players," she said.

"The next time you watch say a Maria Sharapova -- the
grunting is consistent but all of a sudden when she has a set
up to hit a winner.

"I don't understand, they say you've got to blow air out
when you hit the ball.

"Steffi Graf hit the ball a ton and she didn't grunt. There
were a lot of players, hard-hitting players, and you never
heard a peep out of them.

"I don't understand the philosophy of it."