at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
By Dave James
London - Scream queen Maria Sharapova will carry on grunting if it helps her conquer Wimbledon again, the head of women's tennis has said.
The Russian pin-up, the champion in 2004, came under fire for her high-decibel screaming in her 6-1, 6-4 quarterfinal triumph over compatriot Elena Dementieva.
One newspaper measured the noises she made on Centre Court, claiming they were the equal of a pneumatic drill.
"The players are aware of it and they say they can't control it," said Larry Scott, the chief executive of the WTA Tour, the governing body of the women's game.
"They say it's an athletic thing and it's what they do to focus. They are concerned about winning matches and if it helps them pull out wins when the pressure is on, they are not going to turn it off."
The Daily Mail newspaper on Wednesday said they had measured Sharapova's screams and that, during the quarterfinal against Dementieva, they peaked at 102.7 decibels, the same as a pneumatic drill.
The Russian's previous best at the tournament had been 102.5 while, on Tuesday, she had started at a sedate 89.3. Other women players lag behind when it comes to on-court noise.
Serena Williams has peaked in the past at 88 decibels, sister Venus 85 and Lindsay Davenport 84.
The Daily Mail bemoaned the fact that Britain's Tim Henman could only muster a paltry 61.6.
Dementieva, who has a frosty relationship with Sharapova, believes the umpire should intervene when the noise becomes unbearable.
"I think it's a little bit too much, but that's the way she's played for a long time," she said. "I think the umpire should calm her down a little bit. I don't know how to measure this. I don't know how to say how loud it was. We can't control how loud she will scream the next day and the next day.
"Perhaps the best way to stop it is to beat her and the next time I beat her I may say something.
"But when you are losing 6-1, 4-1 it doesn't look good if your are going up to the umpire and start talking about how loud she is screaming."
Sharapova insists she is unconcerned by Dementieva's views.
"I don't worry about that. That's her opinion. I wouldn't change a thing," she said. "I always have to answer this question. I have done this ever since I started playing tennis and I'm not going to change. This only ever comes up at Wimbledon."