When Caroline Wozniacki was No. 1 every press conference had at least one (more like three) questions about her being a "slamless No. 1." We now have a new player at the top of the rankings, Victoria Azarenka, who is also the new owner of an Australian Open winner's trophy. So now that those questions are no longer valid, what will the press write about now? What will be the new headline since they are no longer able to rip into Caro and try to shame her into being a more aggressive player by, for example, telling her how many winners (or lack thereof) she hit in her match?
One word: Grunting
Victoria will never carry the burden of not winning a slam, but she will have the burden of being the new face of 'The Grunters.' The players who can make it difficult to watch an entire match because of the decible of their grunt, and the players who at times even get mimicked by fans while on the court. After winning her title in Doha, Victoria was asked (again) about the noise she makes on the court, and this is what she said (via the Washington Post):
It will be with me for my entire career. But let me put it this way: do you snore?” Azarenka asked one reporter on Sunday after winning the Qatar Open. “Can you control that? ... There are ways but you still snore. Right? So it’s natural to you, right? So that’s natural to me, too. The way I play tennis. That’s it.
I cannot speak for any other players. Not one player ever came up to me and said, ‘Hey, stop doing that,’” she said. “If somebody wants to blame: ‘Oh, I lost this match because she’s grunting or whatever.’ You know, it’s up to them. I think they’re just weak people.”
I am not saying that the noise that some players make should never be a topic of discussion outside of the press room, and I am not saying that questions which can sometimes make a player defensive are not valid. The point is, grilling Caroline in her pressers about being slamless didn't help her win a slam, nor will grilling Victoria make her silence her hoots. These type of questions are an unfortunate product of our society - instead of celebrating achievements, we try to shame people to bend to our will, (or for a good story).
The WTA is looking into decreasing grunting in the next generation of players, but until there is some mandate saying that it isn't allowed, let's let it go. There is a mute button for those who are so inclined. Too bad the players don't have a mute button for these type of questions.