Grunting: The 10 Worst Offenders in Sports History

Elliott PohnlFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2010

Grunting: The 10 Worst Offenders in Sports History

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    Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

    Grunting has become synonymous with tennis success in recent years, with players like Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams taking things to a whole new decibel level.

    The success of those women is due in large part to talent, but according to a study conducted jointly by the University of Hawaii and the University of British Columbia, their grunts also give them a big advantage over the competition.

    The study found that players who grunted created a significant distraction for opponents, giving the loud players an edge.

    Finally there is some evidence to support the obvious!

    Here's a look at 10 of the worst grunting offenders in sports:

Honorable Mention: Brad Penny

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    Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

    I can't find any video of this, but Brad Penny brought grunting to the diamond when he took the mound as the National League starting pitcher in the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.

    Knowing he would be on a short leash, Penny let it rip in the first inning.  The gigantic righty could be heard grunting loudly as he hurled balls to the plate.

    He struck out the side in the first inning, never throwing a pitch below 96 mph.  In the second inning, he was touched up for an opposite field home run on a blistering fastball by Vladimir Guerrero.

    There's nothing like getting amped up on such a big stage.

No. 10: Lauryn Edwards, Australian Tennis Player

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    Lauryn Edwards screamed so loudly that she wasn't allowed to compete at her tennis club.

    She was just nine years old when she was banned from playing at the Mount Carmel Tennis Club in Sanury, Australia.

    The story brought Edwards international attention.

    Of course, Edwards claimed she patterned her game—and yelling—after Maria Sharapova.

No. 9: Jimmy Connors

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    Connors was a yeller, both while he was hitting the ball and occasionally when he got upset at the chair umpire.

    This incident took place at the 1991 U.S. Open.

    "You're a bum. I'm out here playing my butt off at 39 years old, and you're doing that!"

    The crowd wouldn't let it go and neither would Connors.

No. 8: Victoria Azarenka

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    From Belarus, with love, comes screaming sensation Victoria Azarenka,

    The world No. 10 is one of the brightest young stars in tennis, with a strong backhand and some of the best set of pipes on the tour.

    Azarenka's shriek is very annoying, so 22 seconds should be the perfect amount of time to take it in without causing your ears to bleed...

No. 7: Andre Agassi

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    Agassi's vocal style was never more obvious than when he took on his primary competitor, Pete Sampras.

    The bigger Sampras stayed quiet while Agassi ran all over the court, exerting energy and grunting all the way.

    I wonder if wife Steffi Graf, who never grunted when she played, ever encouraged Andre to stop with the noise already.

No. 6: Ray Lewis and Other NFL Players

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    Ray Lewis has been chosen to represent the NFL delegation.

    Lewis certainly walks the walk when he plays and isn't afraid to grunt and groan when trying to fight off blocks.

    Here's some of Ray Ray's finest verbal moments, before and during the game.  Mainly before...

No. 5: Rafael Nadal

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    Nadal's mighty left bicep is very strong but evidently not quite strong enough to get the job done without yelling.

    Nadal and Novak Djokovic engaged in an entertaining match filled with back-and-forth yelling in the U.S. Open.

    Now if only the announcers would stop talking and let us enjoy the grunting...

No. 4: Venus Williams

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    Venus has a deeper grunt than her sister Serena and is overshadowed a bit by her matchup against Victoria Azarenka in Dubai.

    When she really lets it fly, Venus' groan can be simply bone-chilling.

No. 3: Serena Williams

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    Serena Williams is the richest female professional athlete on the face of the earth, and she is also one of the most intimidating.

    Williams shrieks incredibly loudly and is one of many women on tour who has drawn criticism for her outspoken antics.

    David Letterman tried to get to the bottom of the grunts last summer when Serena joined him.

No. 2: Maria Sharapova

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    So, you like it loud?

    Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams absolutely go to town whenever they meet, creating plenty of theater as well as headaches.

    Here is one of the craziest compilations of some of the best rallies and loudest points at Wimbledon.

No. 1: Monica Seles

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    Monica Seles wasn't the first woman to start yelling and irritating opponents like Maria Navratilova, but she was certainly the most polarizing.

    Seles blazed a trail for many of today's generation of players, who openly admitted to imitating her boisterous actions.

    Even though she retired in 2008, Seles will long be remembered as a vocal pioneer in tennis with her bloodcurdling scream.