Top 12: As Wimbledon kicks off this year, we revisit a dozen of the tournament’s greatest tennis moments
12 The Longest Match (2010) Nicolas Mahut and John Isner are names that probably won’t mean much to those who don’t follow tennis closely, but they will probably enjoy legendary status at Wimbledon forever. The Frenchman and the American national were so well matched that it was virtually impossible for one to triumph over the other. Their match lasted two days and lasted 11 hours and five minutes. Incredibly, their final set ended 70-68 and lasted just over eight hours. An ultramarathon with snowshoes!
11 Andy Murray book (2013)
It’s impossible to measure the weight of expectations that rested on Andy Murray’s shoulders, but after Tim Henman consistently failed, the Scotsman was seen as most likely to win the men’s singles title for Great Britain. Cool under extreme pressure, Murray took on the formidable Novak Djokovic in the final and, against all odds, prevailed in straight sets. He was the first Briton to win the title since Fred Perry in 1936.
10 Cliff Richard Entertains The Center Court Crowd (1996)
Center Court – Wimbledon’s flagship arena – now has a retractable roof, meaning the show can go on regardless of any downpour. In 1996, everything was so different, and when the rain delayed the proceedings, Cliff Richard took it upon himself to entertain the masses. Sir Cliff has long been a Wimbledon fan and his impromptu show featured the unlikely backup singers of Virginia Wade (see No 7) and Martina Navratilova.
9 Victorious Venus (2000)
The story of the Williams sisters is inspiring. When older sister Venus won her first Wimbledon on July 9, 2000, there was a real sense of the changing of the guard, but few could imagine how dominant she and Serena would be. Between them, they have won a dozen singles titles at Wimbledon, and Serena – at 40 – will compete in the tournament again this year.
8 The “People’s Finale” (2001)
Getting center court tickets on the day of the final is notoriously difficult. Connections and deep pockets are essential. But 21 years ago, something completely unexpected happened. Due to continued wet weather, the men’s final between Goran Ivanišević and Pat Rafter was moved from Sunday to Monday and tickets went on general sale. The Guardian noted that the usually sedate audience had been supplanted by a “soccer-style crowd”. Ivanišević won in a thriller.
7 Triumphs of Virginia Wade (1977)
The British press and public made a big deal of this Briton’s one and only Wimbledon title. It was Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee, so jingoism was high, and it was also the centenary of Wimbledon itself. But what’s most remarkable about Wade’s victory is that it came at her 16th Wimbledon and was 32 – an age considered geriatric in tennis at that time. Since then, her expert skills have been a staple of the BBC’s coverage of the tournament.
6 The Tears of Jana Novotná (1993)
Steffi Graf, the all-conquering star of women’s tennis in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, had to dig deep to beat Czech challenger Jana Novotná and win her fifth Wimbledon title. Novotná had been dominant in the second set and looked like a major upset. She wept openly when it was over and the eternal memory is of her crying on the shoulder of Katherine, Duchess of Kent. Novotná would eventually win a Wimbledon title in 1998. She died of cancer in 2017, aged 49.
5 Nadal-Federer Classic (2008)
Often considered the greatest match in tennis history, it pitted the two greatest male players of the era in a fierce battle. Roger Federer was then ranked number one with Rafael Nadal at number two, and even at this point their rivalry was considered one of the most intense in history. For nearly five hours, both men gave it their all, with Nadal finally winning – just after – a marathon fifth set that ended 9-7.
4 Navratilova wins her ninth (1990)
Long before she clinched a record ninth title – still the most singles championships won by anyone, male or female – Czechoslovakia-born Navratilova had secured her status as one of the greatest female players. all time. Her powers were waning in 1990, but she still prevailed at the relatively advanced age of 33, defeating Zina Garrison. What is remarkable about her success at Wimbledon is the fact that she has won the title over three decades – her first victory came in 1978, when she beat Chris Evert.
3 Becker Wins (1985)
Boris Becker had two remarkable achievements when he won his maiden Wimbledon title. At 17, he was the youngest singles winner of all time. Martina Hingis would win the women’s singles title at age 16, 12 years later (Lottie Dod was 15 when she won in 1887), but no man came close to Becker’s record. He was also the first unranked player to go all the way. The German would win two more Wimbledon titles. Earlier this year he was convicted of tax evasion and is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
2 Borg wins his fifth consecutive title (1980)
Björn Borg helped make tennis sexy in the 1970s, and in the second half of the decade, the grass-court specialist looked almost unbeatable. But John McEnroe had other ideas and nearly stole the crown from the Swede in this classic and thrilling finale. The match legend was secured in a 22-minute tiebreaker in the fourth set. McEnroe beat him, but Borg prevailed in the fifth set. It was the beginning of the end for Borg – and a turning point for McEnroe.
1 “You Can’t Be Serious!” (nineteen eighty one)
Even those who won’t watch a minute of Wimbledon this year will know the identity of the man who said the above words. John McEnroe may have irritated the prim guys who got the best seats on center court, but his punky irascibility arguably helped popularize tennis more than anyone in the 1980s. a routine victory over Tom Gullikson in the first round. McEnroe won the tournament, defeating Björn Borg in the process.