The 10 Biggest Tantrums In Wimbledon History
— 29 June 2022

The 10 Biggest Tantrums In Wimbledon History

— 29 June 2022
Billy Booker
Billy Booker

A dummy spit. A Wimbledon tennis tantrum. An uncontrollable, unbridled show of raw emotion. Nothing is more entertaining for the neutral fan. And it’s even better when the outburst takes place at the most exclusive tennis club on earth. 

Wimbledon is famous for many things: the strawberries, the Pimms, the pure white clothing, the fresh cut of grass, and all of that gloriously wanky jazz. But tennis players are human and across the years, the tournament has witnessed some almighty dummy spits, and we kicked things off with our very own Nick Kyrgios overnight.

With the first round of Wimbledon 2022 in play, we’ve ranked the 10 biggest tantrums ever seen at the All England Club. There are some familiar names in the below list., even some all-time greats. Proving no player is ever truly exempt from a good old-fashioned toys-out-of-the-cot sulk. 

And we love it. 

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The 10 Biggest Tantrums In Wimbledon History

10. Jona Bjorkman (2007)

This outburst was short and oh-so-sweet. Speaking Swedish to the chair umpire, the 35-year-old Bjorkman called the official “a fucking maniac.” Only a couple of Swedes in the stands knew what he was saying and laughed accordingly. Nobody else did, not even the chair umpire himself. 

9. Tim Henman (1995)

The English press had a field day with this one. Henman missed a simple volley, smashed the ball in frustration towards the net, only to hit the ear of a ball girl right next to him. She fell down, cried, and the crowd was aghast. Henman and his doubles partner Jeremy Bates were disqualified following insistence from Jeff Tarango and Bates has never forgiven Henman for the loss of prize money. 

8. Viktor Troicki (2016)

A meltdown that came out of the blue, Troicki was angered by an ace that had been given to opponent Albert Ramos-Vinolas. In a show of frustration, he grabbed the ball from the ball boy, verbally abused the chair umpire then smashed it into the next suburb. Shortly after the match finished, Troicki refused to shake hands and told the official, “You’re the worst ever. What are you doing? Did you’re see the ball? You’re an idiot… Do you know what you did? You’re horrible. What are you doing? What are you doing? Tell me what are you doing?”

FYI: Troicki is a close friend of Novak Djokovic. 

7. Anna Smashnova (2000)

Smashnova has the perfect name for this type of unexpected outburst. She was allegedly provoked by the husband of her opponent and as retribution, smashed the ball right at him. The only issue? She missed and hit an innocent spectator. She was fined, and given her career-high ranking was 275, her name will always be associated with this bizarre dummy spit rather than the tennis she played.

6. Greg Rusedski (2003)

Of all the tirades on this page, the Rusedski one from 2003 is perhaps the most forgivable. A fan in the crowd yelled “out,” which confused the player and ultimately saw him lose the point to Andy Roddick. The umpire didn’t replay the point and Rusedski smashed his racket into the grass and lost the next five games and the match. 

5. Nick Kyrgios (2015)

In light of his first round showcase overnight, it wouldn’t be a hissy-fit list without Australia’s own Nick Kyrgios somewhere towards the top. During the second set of his defeat to Richard Gasquet, he gave up completely. The petulance drew boos from the crowd as he plopped balls into the net and refused to chase anything down. Earlier in the tournament, he muttered “dirty scrum” under his breath. The allegation was he did it towards a linesman, though he maintained it was self-abuse. But the Gasquet meltdown was the main one, and boy was it a huge sulk. 

4. Fabio Fogini (2013)

If you’re looking for a laugh, this will do the trick. Fognini couldn’t believe the chair umpire’s out call, so he launched into a now iconic opera in his native Italian. Even the official couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Six years later, Fognini was fined $3,000 for publicly declaring his wish that a bomb would hit Wimbledon. Umm, OK. Maybe that’s not so funny. 

3. Damir Dokic (2000)

This meltdown is reserved for the father of a player in the case Jelena Dokic. Damir – or “the tennis father from hell” – landed himself in trouble with police after drunkenly smashing a journalist’s phone after his daughter won on an outside court. He was abusive too, shouting “the Women’s Tennis Association are fascists” and “the Queen is for democracy, but everything else in this country is fascist.” A year earlier, he had accused tournament organisers in Birmingham of being Nazis, so his Wimbledon tantrum was hardly a one-off. 

2. Jeff Tarango (1995)

This loud-mouth American never progressed past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament, but will forever be remembered for his remarkable spray in the mid 1990s. After telling the crowd to “shut up,” Tarango received a code violation for poor language. A screw (or two) loose, he then told the chair umpire he was “the most corrupt official in tennis” before storming off the court and forfeiting the match. In a bizarre twist, his wife then tried to slap the umpire not once, but twice. He wasn’t invited back to Wimbledon in 1996, but played doubles and mixed doubles from 1997 for a few more years

1. John McEnroe (1981)

This McEnroe explosion was voted Wimbledon’s most memorable moment in a 2011 poll, and rightly so. You could argue it’s the most famous sporting meltdown of all time. It occurred during a first-round match against Tom Gullikson and led to the now-iconic phrase “you cannot be serious.” Among various slurs, McEnroe told the chair umpire he was “the pit of the world” after the official called his serve out. 

“That ball was on the line, chalk flew up!” McEnroe shouted.

“It was clearly in, how can you possibly call that out? How many are you going to miss?

“He’s walking over, everyone knows it’s in, this whole stadium and you call it out? Explain that to me, will you? You guys are the absolute pits of the world!”

Replays showed he was right, but there was no video review technology in 1981. “You cannot be serious” became the title of his hit autobiography and has since become indelibly connected with McEnroe the tennis icon, who went on to win the 1981 tournament.

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Billy Booker


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