Wimbledon: The 10 greatest tantrums in the tennis game's history
Come on! (Picture: Getty)

Strawberries and cream, jugs of Pimms, the all-white dress code: Wimbledon is renowned for being one of the most civilised, traditional and genteel events on the sporting calendar.

But every now and then, the tournament’s overwhelming politeness is interrupted by the kind of bad-tempered meltdown more suited to a Tarantino movie than the All-England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

Ahead of this year’s competition, which gets underway on July 3, here’s a look at 10 of the biggest tantrums in Wimbledon history.

Anna Smashnova, 2000

Anna Smashnova of Israel in action against Sabine Appelmans of Belgium in the Ladies 3rd Round match during Wimbledon 2000
Anna Smashnova in action at Wimbledon in 2000 (Picture: Stu Forster /Allsport)

Wimbledon’s ladies are typically far better behaved than their male counterparts – in fact, Anna Smashnova is the only woman to feature here.

After allegedly being provoked by the husband of her Hungarian opponent, Katalin Marosi-Aracama, throughout their match, the Israeli attempted to get her own back by hitting the ball directly at him.

Unfortunately, she ended up striking an innocent spectator instead.

Smashnova apologised to the lady in question, but was still hit with a fine for her outburst.

Jonas Bjorkman, 2007

The notoriously terrible British summer weather and a series of questionable calls caused the usually mild-mannered Jonas Bjorkman to lose his cool in 2007.

Playing against Tomas Berdych in the fourth round, the then 35-year-old unleashed a volley of abuse towards his chair, which included calling umpire James Keothavong a ‘f***ing maniac.’

The fact that he delivered his insults in his native Swedish meant he got away with it at the time, although it was still pretty obvious that he was turning the air blue.

Fabio Fognini, 2013

Trust an Italian to provide the most theatrical reaction to a tight line call ever seen at Wimbledon.

Competing against Jurgen Melzer in 2013, Fabio Fognini appeared to be making his bid for an Oscar nomination by collapsing to the floor, wildly gesticulating and waxing lyrically in his native Italian.

His antics were so entertaining that the umpire can actually be seen struggling to contain his laughter.

Greg Rusedski, 2003

Wimbledon crowds are generally an impeccably behaved bunch, but occasionally the odd spectator will appear to forget where they are.

Perhaps understandably, Greg Rusedski lost it during a 2003 match with Andy Roddick when one motormouth fan’s call of ‘out’ confused him into thinking play had stopped.

After the umpire refused to replay the point, the Canadian-born adopted Brit launched into a foul-mouthed tirade in which he slammed the ‘w***er in the crowd.’

Having been 5-2 up in the set, Rusedski subsequently lost the next five games, and the entire match. And to add insult to injury, he was later fined £1500.

Nick Kyrgios, 2015

Dubbed the bad boy of tennis, Australian Nick Kyrgios could almost fill this entire list with his behaviour at Wimbledon 2015.

In his first round match against Diego Schwartzman, he was heard uttering ‘dirty scum’ by a linesman, although he later claimed he was only chastising himself.

He also repeatedly swore during his second round encounter against Juan Monaco; he received a code violation for throwing his racket in anger in the third round tie against Milos Raonic; while in the fourth round he appeared to deliberately throw points against Richard Gasquet in one almighty sulk.

Tim Henman, 1995

Who would have expected Tim ‘too nice’ Henman to become the first ever player in the Open era to be disqualified from Wimbledon.

The former golden boy of British men’s tennis was competing in a 1995 doubles match with Jeremy Bates when, after missing a volley, he smashed a ball in anger towards the net.

Unfortunately, it hit the ear of the poor unsuspecting ball girl just a foot away, who after falling to the ground then got up in tears before bravely carrying on like a trooper.

Despite the accidental nature, Henman and Bates were subsequently disqualified, with the former claiming that the latter has never forgiven him for the loss of prize money.

Damir Dokic, 2000

Damir Dokic (centre), Jelena Dokic's father, and her coach talks to the police during Wimbledon 2000 (Picture: Allsport UK /Allsport)
Damir Dokic (centre), Jelena Dokic’s father, and her coach talks to the police during Wimbledon 2000 (Picture: Allsport UK /Allsport)

Regarded as one of the sport’s ultimate pushy parents, Jelena Dokic’s father Damir found himself in the headlines once again in 2000 thanks to a drunk and abusive gatecrashing of Wimbledon’s press building.

‘The Women’s Tennis Association are fascists and political’ and ‘the Queen is for democracy, everything else in this country is fascist’ were just two comments allegedly made by Dokic moments after watching his daughter win on court five.

The Australian was also accused of smashing a journalist’s mobile phone before being escorted away by police, who later released him without charge.

Viktor Troicki, 2016

Serbian Viktor Troicki waited until the penultimate point of his match against Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas to throw a hissy fit at last year’s Wimbledon.

Annoyed by an ace that had been given to his opponent, the world No 27 snatched the ball from a ball boy’s hands, repeatedly implored umpire Damiano Torella to look at it and then hit it out of the court.

Troicki then refused to shake hands with Ramos-Vinolas when the Spaniard wrapped up victory just a point later, and then continued his tirade at Torella, telling him, ‘you’re the worst ever, you’re an idiot.’

John McEnroe, 1981

The most famous on-court meltdown occurred during a first-round match between John McEnroe and Tom Gullikson in 1981. In fact, it was even voted Wimbledon’s most memorable moment in a 2011 poll.

Frustrated over a line-call, McEnroe grew increasingly irate with umpire Edward James, calling him ‘the absolute pit of the world.’ But it was his repeated use of ‘you cannot be serious’ that went down in tennis folklore.

Unlike most on this list, McEnroe’s antics didn’t stop him from winning his match, and although he was later fined $ 1500, he soon recouped it by winning the whole tournament.

Jeff Tarango, 1995

But the ultimate Wimbledon tantrum must go to Jeff Tarango, the fiery American who made McEnroe look like the height of sportsmanship.

Competing in a third-round match against German Alexander Mronz in 1995, Tarango was initially reprimanded by French umpire Bruno Rebeuh for telling the jeering crowd – frustrated with his delaying tactics – to ‘shut up.’

The then 26-year-old spat his dummy out further when he insisted that Rebeuh be replaced, calling him ‘the most corrupt official in tennis.’

He then forfeited the match by storming off court before his equally furious wife tried to slap the umpire not just once but twice.

Unsurprisingly, Wimbledon bosses didn’t invite him back the following year.

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