Tennis is by all means a calm and serene sport, where the most emotive activity usually stems from anxious spectators. However, there are times when players lose their cool and get riled up.
Even though these temper tantrums don’t take place often, they happen occasionally. Over the years, fans have been treated to all shapes and sizes of on-court flare-ups, which can be entertaining to watch.
Besides racket breaking and yelling, there’ve been full-blown outbursts. This has also piqued the interest of many people who find themselves eagerly scanning upcoming games and live tennis odds, in hopes of making the right judgment call.
Let’s time travel through these top 10 tennis tirades of all time.
1 – John McEnroe-1981-Stockholm
John McEnroe lost his temper, leading to one of the most popular catchphrases “you can’t be serious”. Known for his quick temper, McEnroe gained a reputation as a tennis hothead. The umpire made a controversial call that led to McEnroe’s fury. The seven-time Grand Slam winner went on to rant on the court at the umpire.
2 – Jimmy Connors-1991-US Open
Jimmy Connors had an on-court meltdown and launched aggressive tirades at the umpire, David Littlefield. He repeatedly called him “an abortion” throughout the match. This was after the umpire called out his overhead. Nonetheless, he wasn’t penalized for this and even went on to win the match.
3 – Goran Ivanisevic- 2000- Samsung Open
Goran Ivanisevic walked off the court in the middle of a match. After breaking his three racquets while playing, he stated that he had nothing left to play with. Consequently bowing out of the Samsung open match. Walking out of the game is unacceptable by all standards. The Croatian got disqualified.
4 – Xavier Malisse – 2005- Miami Masters
Xavier Malisse takes the cake when it comes to acting like a spoiled toddler. After a line judge call that he disagreed with, Xavier went on a rampage. The Belgian threw himself on the ground and started rolling about and shouting at the umpire. He then bashed his racquet and kicked over the referee’s chair before storming off the court.
5 – Anastasia Rodionova-2007-Cincinnati Open
Anastasia Rodionova lost her cool and smashed the ball at 3 spectators who were cheering her opponent, Angelique Kerber. The 25-year-old Russian became the second female to be disqualified in WTA history for her unsportsmanlike conduct. The other female to be disqualified was Irina Spirlea in 1996. She swore at an official.
6- Serena Williams-2009-US Open Semi-final
Serena was under pressure against Kim Clijsters in the first set. By the second set, she struggled to break a tie before being called for a foot fault. This set off the legend’s verbal abuse against the umpire. She used the infamous line telling the judge to “shove the ball down your throat”. She got a penalty point and ultimately lost the match.
7 – Marcos Baghdatis-2012-Australian Open
Marcos Baghdatis became an overnight YouTube sensation when he broke 4 racquets in succession. Staring at the possibility of defeat, his outrage was sparked during his clash with Stanislas Wawrinka. He had lost two sets. He won the third set after the tantrum. But in the end, he lost the game.
8 – Viktor Troicki-2016-Wimbledon
Troicki went nuts in Wimbledon. He was enraged and had one of the longest on-court outbursts. It went on for five minutes. He raged at the umpire, calling him the worst ever and an idiot. The official had made 30 wrong calls. The Serbian went to the extent of pulling a cameraman onto the court, to point to him where the ball had hit the ground.
9 – Karolina Pliskova-2018- Italian Open
Karolina let loose when she was playing against Maria Sakkari. Her outburst is mostly remembered due to her anger directed towards the umpire’s chair. She bashed the umpire’s chair several times with her racquet and made a hole in it. This was after the referee made an incorrect call on one of her smashes during the match.
10 – Serena Williams-2018- US Open
In the 2018 US Open, Serena Williams heatedly exchanged words with the chair umpire throughout the match. She was eventually cautioned for alleged coaching. She ignored the warning and bashed her racquet. She then called out the umpire for being sexist. She lost the match and was fined for her behavior.