I reluctantly watched Venus Williams lose yesterday on ESPN2. It was a re-airing of her match, and I had already ruined the result for myself. However, since I like to catch as much tennis as possible, I continued to watch.

When they would cut away to show other matches or news from around Roland Garros, is when I’d pay the most attention. They started talking about this young player on the tour who is extremely loud while she plays.

I thought, “loud”? What’s that supposed to mean? Is she yelling at the chair ump like McEnroe, psyching herself up in between points, or is she a grunter a la Maria Sharapova? Turns out she’s a grunter and makes Maria sound like a church mouse in comparison. I had to investigate!

The player in question is Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal and she’s very good, but apparently people are bothered by her grunts. Actually I don’t even think the word grunt accurately describes the sound she makes when she hits the ball. It’s more like a scream or a wail. It’s weird and extremely distracting/annoying. But don’t take my word for it. Watch a few seconds of this YouTube video and listen for yourself:

I admit that I only made it through 20 seconds of that video before saying “is this chick serious?” and stopping the video. If I could only make it through 20 seconds, there’s no way I could watch a match; well, not without muting the TV. And then I’d miss the commentary that I mostly enjoy. Somewhat of a dilemma for me, but not nearly as huge as the decision WTA officials — who are receiving complaints and trying to decide how to handle the situation — are being faced with.

For her part, Michelle retorts that no one is telling Maria Sharapova to “be quiet”, so why should she have to? (Apples and oranges, young’un. Apples and oranges.) Also, she counters that no one really complains about her shrieks until they aren’t winning. She’s got a point there. There are also many who take issue with what is deemed to be excessive celebrations by Larcher de Brito. Not at the end of the match, which is common, but during the match and after a lot of points. If it’s a big momentum swing, then I’m all for the fist pump that I see Maria and Serena do in that situation. But apparently, Michelle does it frequently and it puts off a lot of fans and players. Again, I don’t really know because I haven’t seen her play. I’m curious, but I worry about my ears.

Will be interesting to see how she develops as a player on the tour. I can honestly say that I won’t be tuning in to any of her matches if she keeps this up. And I know it’s hard to control, but damn. Homegirl needs to tone that mess down STAT!