For many, it isn’t quite summer until the streets are filled with nothing but the “click-clack” of tennis balls and we’re being bombarded by Robinson’s squash adverts. Oh yes, Wimbledon is nearly here but it isn’t always strawberries and cream in SW19. Centre court and its surrounding lawns have been the theatre for some of the greatest sporting meltdowns since records began, so pull up a chair, pour yourselves a glass of summer fruits and witness some of the worst tennis tantrums of all time.
SERENA’S FOOT FAULT
Serena Williams doesn’t look like the kind of lady you’d like to get on the wrong side of and one poor line judge found out first-hand what happens when you anger the silverback of women’s tennis at the US Open 2009. After disqualifying the angrier of the Williams sisters through a foot fault, Serena allegedly screamed “I swear to god I am going to take this ball and shove it down your f*cking throat, you hear that?”.
Greg Rusedski is one of the BBC’s best Wimbledon pundits, but little remember he’d already graced the microphone as a player… Calling a member of the crowd a “w*nker”. The meltdown happened after a spectator false-called a ball out in a game against Andy Roddick and the umpire refused to replay the point. You can see the full incident in all its brilliant glory below.
CALM DOWN ROGER
Roger Federer is one of the calmest and collected sportsmen on the planet, but when he loses his cool, he goes truly berserk. It hasn’t happened since 2009 in Miami when a series of failed forehands caused the “Fed” to well and truly annihilate his racket.
JOHN MCENROE AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
It’s almost possible to look at John McEnroe’s career as one long (very successful) tantrum but in the Australian Open in 1990 he was on top form. Not only does he intimidate the lineswoman, but he also demolishes his racket and then swears at the umpire to get disqualified.
JOHN MCENROE AT WIMBLEDON
We could write an entire blog on John McEnroe’s best outbursts but his most iconic rage-fit came against Tom Gullikson at Wimbledon in 1981. After the ball is claimed out, McEnroe audibly screams “you cannot be serious!” at the umpire in a moment that’s gone down in SW19 folklore.
NALBANDIAN’S WORST HOUR
In the 2012 Queens Final, David Nalbandian suffered a shocking fit of anger in which he rushed to the side of the court and kicked an advertising board… With a linesman’s leg on the other side of it. Yep, his kick drew blood, lost him the match and cost him a $12,560 fine. But the video of this epic rage fit? Priceless.
Some would argue it isn’t a proper tantrum unless you break your racket… And at the 2012 Australian Open Marcos Baghdatis left the crowd in no illusions that he was unhappy when he smashed not one, two or even three rackets to pieces but FOUR. A couple of them didn’t even make it out of the wrapper!
YOUZH GOT TO BE KIDDING
The 2008 Miami Masters were the breeding ground for one of tennis’ all-time greatest meltdowns when the raging Russian Mikhail Youzhny took a racket to his head after failing to get the ball over the net. Not only did he open a bloody gash in his forehead, but he also returned to the touchline to serve before medical staff forced him to be treated.
THE SWISS MISS
When Martina Hingis took on veteran champion Steffi Graf at the 1999 French Open she almost walked away with a historic win, but a ball she thought was in ended up being called out by the umpire triggering a tantrum for the ages. She walks to the other side of the court to point out the chalk mark only to be booed by a merciless 16,000 strong crowd. She quickly lost all steam and lost the match in tears.
Australian upstart Nick Kyrgios was in high spirits in Wimbledon 2015… Right up until he came up against Richard Gasquet. After losing a series of points in dramatic fashion, he threw in the towel by simply hitting balls into the net and actually ignoring serves. Naughty Nick, very naughty indeed.
“Tiger” Tim Henman is surely one of Britain’s most fondly remembered sporting icons but even his squeaky-clean record is marred by a few court tantrums. The worst of which happened in 1995 when he struck a ball in frustration, only to hit a ball girl straight in the arm at close range. He was disqualified from the tournament but that didn’t stop him buying the ball girl a bouquet of flowers to apologise. Good on you Tim, you old dog.
Britain’s number one Andy Murray isn’t without his moments of madness and the most remembered happened in Wimbledon 2014 when he suffered a shock exit the year after winning the tournament. He was caught swearing audibly on camera multiple times about rain delays and other problems before eventually losing the match to Grigor Dimitrov. Close your ears Murray Mount!