From the Quiet of Wimbledon, the Loud Groan of the Crowd

The groan is not unique to Wimbledon. But it is more obvious there because, in contrast to the United States Open, for example, it is much more common for the crowd to fall into silence before points begin. The grass muffles the sound of the ball bounce, too, so when the urrrr comes, it is inescapable.


Pam Shriver hurling her racket at the ball while trying to play a shot during a match against Anke Huber on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in 1996. Shriver said she had heard many groans during the match, which Huber won, 6-2, 6-1.

Dave Caulkin/Associated Press

“I heard a lot of groans, a lot,” said Pam Shriver, the former top-ranked doubles player, who is now an analyst with ESPN. “It can be embarrassing, especially if it’s on Centre Court.”

Shriver remembered her “biggest groan.” It came in 1996 when she was playing Anke Huber in the second round.

“It was the last time I played after 19 years of playing there, and I hit a double fault on match point,” Shriver said. “My second serve, I was serving up the sunny end, it caught the top of my frame and it…

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