It’s officially Grand Slam season, and after a 2012 French Open full of upsets, records, and surprising wins, tennis players and fans have their eyes set on Wimbledon. With the Grand Slam title on the line, players are expected to leave it all on the court. However, throughout the years, tennis players have managed to bring more than just their A-game to championship matches—they’ve brought tears, tantrums, and tempers, too. Such outbursts are all too common in the sport and are often triggered by “bad” calls and missed points by officials. Here’s our best of five tennis tantrums:
Serena Williams is known for her sharp serve, but it was her sharp tongue that got everyone’s attention during the 2011 U.S. Open final match against Samantha Stosur. After a rough first set, the excitement of Serena’s second set comeback caused her to scream before the ball reached her opponent which caused her to lose a point and arguably the match. Serena quickly lashed out at the umpire who made the call referring to her as a “hater” and “ugly inside and out.” But this wasn’t the first time Serena’s tainted tongue got the best of her during a Grand Slam. Back in 2009, she had some choice words for the lineswoman after a foot fault was called against her as she played Kim Clijsters during the U.S. Open women’s semi-final. Williams’ unsportsmanlike conduct ended up costing her that match, too. Looks like Serena needs to work on her Grand Slam etiquette.
Watch a mini bio of Serena here:
John McEnroe never managed to stroke officials the right way, but that didn’t stop him from winning 17 Grand Slam championships throughout the course of his tennis career. Infamously known for his outbursts on the court, one of his most memorable moments was at Wimbledon in 1981. During his first-round match against Tom Gullikson, the official made a line call against McEnroe which sent him on a tirade that resulted in what later became known as his coined phrase: “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS?” He was fined $1,500 for his court hindrance, but the “Superbrat’s” misconduct continued in other matches with him swinging his racquet at everything but the ball. McEnroe’s bad behavior and profanity-laced rants landed him an estimated $12 million in fines — HE CANNOT BE SERIOUS!
Known for his fiery temper, Jimmy Connors unloaded on the umpire during his fourth-round match against Aaron Krickstein in the 1991 U.S. Open. When the official made an out call against him, Connors aggressively approached the umpire’s chair to challenge the call. He used the opportunity to take a jab at rival John McEnroe by stating that he would stand his ground and not storm off as McEnroe often did during his run-ins with officials—his direct quote was a bit more decorated, of course. Connors ended up winning the match with a few gimmicks in between, which included mocking the official by “ejecting” him from the court—ideal behavior for a 39-year-old champ.
Tennis fans are just as invested in the game as the players, but during the 2003 Wimbledon tournament, one fan went too far when he decided to call the shots and caused Canadian tennis star, Greg Rusedski, to lose it. Rusedski’s second-round match against Andy Roddick took a turn for the worst when a fan shouted “out” during a play. Unaware, that the call wasn’t made by an official, Rusedski stopped playing the rally and ended up losing his serve. He wasted no time disputing the fan’s interference, but the umpire didn’t budge when Rusedski demanded they replay the point. Infuriated, he slammed his racquet to the ground before mouthing off to the umpire for allowing the fan to change the whole match. Rusedski ended up losing to Andy Roddick and was later fined for his “potty” mouth.
Officials aren’t always to blame when things don’t go as expected on the court. Some players are willing to take full responsibility for their petty mistakes. During the 2008 Miami Masters Tournament, Russian tennis player, Mikhail Youzhny, went head-to-head with his racquet (literally) after a failed attempt to make a comeback during his third set against Nicolas Almagro. Youzhny bashed himself in the head with his racquet three times causing blood to trickle down his face. Youzhny’s self-inflicted meltdown may have tightened up some loose screws because after receiving medical attention, he managed to win the match.