wimbledon a scream, thanks to grunters

LONDON - Victoria Azarenka turned up the volume on the Wimbledon noise saga, calling for people to respect grunters after the crowd mimicked her wails during a second-round victory.

The eighth-seeded Belarussian said nearly three-quarters of women on the tour screamed, squealed or squawked during matches and that the sound effects were here to stay.

"People can do whatever they want but I hope they can respect all the players who grunt, which are about 70percent of the whole tour," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"I have been doing it since I was 10 years old. I wasn't really strong and that was what helped me to accelerate more, to put more power to the ball. I cannot change it, that's what helps me to play."

Whether it was the din or the deft shots that battered her opponent into submission, something was obviously working as she demolished Romanian Raluca Olaru 6-0 6-0.

Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito, who deafened French Open fans with an array of sounds usually heard in a hospital maternity ward, had quietened down for her trip to southwest London.

Expecting to need industrial ear plugs, the fans who packed court 12 to see the 16-year-old were disappointed at the start of the match with the new subdued version but finally got a taste of what all the fuss had been about in the second set. The more she had to fight to stay in the match, the louder she got and the longer the cries of anguish lasted.

"She sounds like she's dying," giggled Lucy Clements, whose 17-year-old brother Joe added: "We are only here to hear her, we can do that from outside the court."

De Brito was beaten 7-6 7-6 by Italian Francesca Schiavone, who made a racket of her own. - Reuters