BBC unveils ‘grunt controller’ for Wimbledon

Jun 30, 2011
Eliot Sefton

With Sharapova and Azarenko both in the semis, radio listeners can now turn down the volume

With shrieking tennis players Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka taking part in the women's semi-finals at Wimbledon today the BBC has taken action by launching a device called Net Mix, which allows users to turn down the grunts of the players while listening to the radio coverage.

The noise reduction programme - or "grunt controller" - allows listeners to change the contrast between commentator and court, and fade out the sound of the players' groans and gasps.

The launch comes at just the right time, with two of the biggest offenders tipped to meet in the final.

Sharapova, seeded five in the tournament, has grunted her way through the 100 decibel barrier in the past. Her best was 105db in 2009. She takes on wildcard Sabine Lisicki in the second of Thursday's semi-finals.

Before that match it is the turn of Belarusian fourth seed Victoria Azarenka. Her grunts are not in the same league as Sharapova's and her record is only 95bd. But she makes up for loudness with length. Her groans can last for well over a second, and some have likened her to a tennis-playing Clanger, after the whistling 1970s aliens from the TV show.

She takes on Petra Kvitova, who is not averse to the odd scream herself.

Earlier in the tournament, Wimbledon chief Ian Ritchie told the Daily Telegraph that officials would "prefer to see less grunting".

He said it had been discussed by the tennis authorities and that he recieved a large number of letters about it.

"So we are aware, whether you are watching it on TV or here, people don't particularly like it," he said. Fortunately for people listening on the radio, it is now less of a problem.


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