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As the ladies' singles began, wherever you walked, drifting over from the courts came what sounded like the last throes of a particularly intense labour.Such was the noise that anyone finding themselves in Court No 1 watching Maria Sharapova take on Viktoriya Kutuzova, for instance, would not have been surprised to see paramedics arrive on court to administer an epidural.
Matching her, squeal for squeal was the Ukrainian Kutuzova, who clearly models herself on her senior Russian opponent. "Hoo-naagh", retorted her opponent, reaching wide to return. As the Russian made short work of the Ukrainian, Victoria Azarenka, from Belarus, was on an outside court, thrashing away at the Frenchwoman Severina Bremond Beltrane.Same taste in sun visors, same style of blonde ponytail, same habit of bouncing on the spot before a serve. "Hazz-nee" belted Sharapova as she blasted a winner down the tramlines. Azarenka's every serve was soundtracked by a "yaaa-shooo" which sounded as if she were suffering from a particularly virulent allergy.In the lead up to this year's tournament there was much talk of the grunt.Critics reckoned such has been the prodigious increase in volume since Monica Seles first shrieked to prominence, women's tennis now sounded like a pornographic movie.Witnessing it at close quarters, however, this seems the wrong filmic allusion.It was certainly a view shared by Laura Robson, who remarked yesterday that "it is not the nicest sound when you are focusing on hitting a shot".
And the grunt-as-gamesmanship theory was given further impetus by the appearance of Michelle Larcher de Brito, the Portuguese teenager who is a student of the same Florida academy that schooled both Seles and Sharapova.
As the 16 year-old reached the third round of the French Open recently there had been complaints from opponents, umpires and the Greater Parisian Noise Abatement Society alike.
The favoured yelp is angry, aggressive, making the peaceful environs of Wimbledon sound like the climax to one of those slasher movies, when the heroine in peril finally exacts noisome revenge on her demonic persecutor; more Drag Me To Hell than Debbie Does Dallas.
And the intriguing thing is, how selective the grunters are in their noise.
There were occasions when both Sharapova and Kutuzova completed shots in silence.
Which rather adds weight to Martina Navratilova's observation that the grunt is a piece of coached behaviour, designed to disturb an opponent's equilibrium, the volume switch turned to suit the circumstances.