The Greatest Tennis Dramas in History
Andre’s wig and Venus’s underpants
We’re in week two of Wimbledon, the staid British tennis match where kerfuffles--such as this year’s swearing and sock-changing by 20-year-old French star Nick Kyrgios--are as green as the grass courts. But really, there's a long history of tennis stars throwing hissy fits. How many of these other controversies can you recall?
Shoeless Roger Federer
In 2011, the top-ranked tennis star was forbidden from wearing his orange-soled Nike sneakers while playing at Wimbledon, since they violated the tourney’s rabid all-white clothing rule. Nike got the last laugh, however, since the shoes sold out within hours.
Assault on a Line Judge
Every player gets frustrated. But every player doesn’t kick a line judge, like Argentine star David Nalbandian did in 2012 in a grass-court Wimbledon warm-up event. Nalbandian apologized but ended up being disqualified, losing his prize money, getting fined and being investigated for assault. As for the line judge? He limped home with a one-inch cut.
McEnroe Denied Wimbledon honors
The nimble, left-handed, trigger-tempered John McEnroe argued over line calls and abused judges during the 1981 match in which he defeated five-time champ Björn Borg to win Wimbledon. But officials were so shocked by his behavior, they denied him the honorary membership in the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club that goes with the win. McEnroe’s reaction? He danced the night away in London discos. The following year, the club relented and welcomed him as a member.
Andre Agassi’s Wig
Remember Agassi's horrible multicolored '90s mullet? Turns out it was a hairpiece worn to cover his baldness. When it dissolved at the French Open in 1990, his brother bobby pinned it together and suggested he not move too much. He lost the match, and finally stopped wearing hairpieces altogether when then-fiancee Brooke Shields told him to.
An Aussie announcer asked emerging Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard and world champ Serena Williams to “do a twirl” to show off their fluorescent dresses. They complied but separately announced that the whole thing made them feel…awkward. Billie Jean King posted on Twitter that the request was “out of line." "This is truly sexist," she said. "If you ask the women, you have to ask the men to twirl as well.”
Martina Navratilova Comes Out
The Czech expat was granted U.S. citizenship in 1981 and shortly thereafter came out as gay, a move that, she says, ended up costing her millions in endorsement deals. Her career includes winning the most singles and doubles women’s titles ever and proposing to her former Miss USSR girlfriend on the Jumbotron at the 2014 U.S. Open. (She said yes.)
Serena’s Outburst Costs Her the US Open
“I swear to God, I'll f --- take this ball and shove it down your f -- - throat." Those are the heated words that Serena Williams hurled at a lineswoman in the 2009 semi-finals, after she called a foot fault. As a result, the referee assessed a point penalty—and since it was match point, opponent Kim Clijsters ended up advancing to—and winning—the title match.
Venus Williams Goes Commando
Not really. But the flesh-toned bloomers she designed created quite a stir at the Australian Open. Today she sells her own tennis line, which isn’t nearly as suggestive.