Why Do Tennis Players Grunt? (Explained)

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The first thing that you hear from non-tennis fans when they watch a match featuring players like Sharapova, Sabalenka, Nadal, or Thiem, is why they scream like that.

Ok they might be tired or injured and they are just expressing their pain, but these players start grunting from the very first point sometimes.

There must be a reason to grunt at every shot you play especially for pro players who can train 5-6 hours a day and have the necessary endurance.

In short, some tennis players generally grunt to release the tension, express some sort of pain, or find their habitual rhythm of play.

But it doesn’t end here, sometimes the screams are so loud and systematic that there have been several complaints either officially or on social media.

Reasons Tennis Players Grunt


There are many factors as to why pro players grunt during the rallies:

  • They feel pain or exhaustion. A way to externalize the pain or the fatigue is to scream during the shots.
  • It is simply a habit: Sometimes there are patterns that tennis players adopt that make them focus better and embrace the game effectively. For example, Rafa Nadal’s grunting on powerful attacks is a habit that systematically repeats in every match. He says that it is natural and it makes playing a lot easier.
  • It helps them time the ball better: Grunting can give the illusion of hitting harder. 
  • To throw off their opponents: Of course, this is what creates the controversy. It has been said that some players scream to cover the sound of the racquet to confuse their opponents.
  • After a magnificent winner: It is a way to express their triumph after a good rally.

What Tennis Players Are Famous for Grunting?


There are a lot of players that grunt during the rallies. Female players grunt a little more than men. Also, they scream harder than men making the game so noisy. Just watch a match between Sabalenka and Serena Williams.

In fact, the loudest female tennis player is Russian Maria Sharapova with screams often getting past 100 decibels. Aryna Sabalenka is currently one of the loudest as well.

Monica Seles and Jimmy Conors have been considered the creators of the tennis grunt. Monica Seles used to reach 90 decibels in her matches.

In addition, Andre Agassi is a famous tennis grunter as well and was sometimes hated by his opponents who said it was cheating and putting off the other player.

Here is a list that consists of the players that grunt:

  • Consistently: On most shots/points
  • Occasionally: When they get tired or in some matches only
  • Rarely: In a very few points or never


Consistently gruntingOccasionally gruntingRarely grunting
Rafael NadalNovak DjokovicRoger Federer
Jimmy ConnorsAndy MurrayStefanos Tsitsipas
Andre AgassiJuan Martin Del PotroPete Sampras
Dominic ThiemStan WawrinkaIvan Lendl
Carlos AlcarazMarin CilicBjörn Borg
Andrey RublevDaniil MedvedevDavid Nalbandian
Gustavo KuertenAlexander ZverevGrigor Dimitrov
Nick BollettieriJohn McEnroeTomas Berdych
David FerrerLleyton HewittBoris Becker
Joao SousaAndy RoddickStefan Edberg


Consistently gruntingOccasionally gruntingRarely grunting
Aryna SabalenkaJustin HeninSteffi Graf
Maria SharapovaNaomi OsakaMartina Navratilova
Victoria AzarenkaMartina HingisChris Evert
Serena WilliamsJelena JankovicKim Clijsters
Venus WilliamsCoco GauffCaroline Wozniacki
Simona HalepEmma RaducanuIga Swiatek
Monica SelesGarbiñe MuguruzaKarolina Pliskova
Michelle Larcher de BritoCaroline GarciaAshleigh Barty
Angelique KerberMadison KeysLindsay Davenport
Jelena OstapenkoPaula BadosaLeylah Fernandez

Is it Illegal to Grunt in Tennis Matches?

It is not illegal to grunt in tennis matches if it is not deliberate. But if the referee or the officials have enough proof that a player is using excessive grunting to throw off his opponent, then he can lose the point or even be disqualified.

There is a WTA rule that says:  “Any continual distraction of regular play, such as grunting, shall be dealt with in accordance with the Hindrance Rule.’ In essence, a player can be docked a point for grunting.”

It is really difficult to draw the line between genuine grunting for releasing the tension and building momentum, and intentional grunting like delayed screams and very loud noises that distract the opponent and cover the sound of the shot.

In my book, grunting when playing tennis should be quiet and spontaneous, otherwise, you can call it cheating.

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