|Maria Sharapova, one of tennis' loudest competitors on the court, makes a return against Galina Voskoboeva at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Ont., Aug. 11, 2011. (DAVE THOMAS/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - The topic of grunting doesn't often come up in the normal course of conversation.
But when you've got an audience with the WTA chairman and CEO, Toronto-born Stacey Allaster, there are no sacred cows.
Especially when grunting, squealing and shrieking on court by some of the top players on the women's tour has become the issue du jour with tennis media around the world. The clamour has become loud enough that the WTA is beginning to listen.
"It's on the radar, yes," Allaster said. "I think it's something that I can say to you that we are looking at. I think I'm very fan-centric and if there is a number of fans who are communicating with us that it's an issue, then it's something we need to look at.
"But I watch alot of tennis now and there's grunting happening in men's tennis as well. Unfortunately, it's just our decibels are a little bit higher. Our DNA is different."
The bellowing has been heard around Rexall Centre this week as some of the worst offenders -- Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova (who has reportedly hit 101 decibels) and Victoria Azarenka -- have been in action at the Rogers Cup.
But Allaster says the WTA already has rules in place if some of the sport's wailing waifs get a little too loud.
"The chair umpire has the authority that if she thinks something is happening from one of the competitors where they're interfering with competition, they can implement that rule," Allaster said. "The reality of it is, the athletes themselves are not coming to me saying, 'We have an issue.'"
Maybe they just have really good earplugs.