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“Decibel demons” of the pro tennis tour

November 2, 2012
KEYWORDS acoustic / decibels / noise
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Acoustic consultants concerned about the noise levels in Wimbledon once took a digital sound-level meter to record the volley of shrieks let out by Maria Sharapova in 2007. At 103.7, it was a yell equivalent to an ambulance siren.

Keen observers, they also noted that her grunting steadily grew louder after she lost the first set but her noisiest offering came when she served for the first time in the second set. They returned in 2008 to see if Sharapova had become any better, more eco-friendly perhaps. Although the decibel level was down by a few fractions, the consultants declared that she was still louder than a motorcycle or a lawnmower.

Sharapova is not alone on the circuit. Sisters Serena Williams, at a much lower 88 decibels and Venus, at 85 decibels (the equivalent of a Harley Davidson) are loud too.

Sharapova faces stiff competition from Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito, who is the new 'decibel demon' on the tour. Research has shown 115 decibels exceeds the human pain threshold, with risk of hearing loss when noise is more than 90 decibels.

Yet, a Sharapova shriek is music to many ears, like one social networking-site enthusiast, for whom Sharapova "belongs to the lineage of war-women, who were romantic yet aggressive in their intent," according to The Times of India.

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