From smashing racquets to arguing with chair umpires, on court drama is nothing new in the world of tennis. The latest tennis star to lose his cool during a match is Australian player Nick Kyrgios, who threw a tantrum on Thursday during the Italian Open Round of 32 match. After losing a point on court against Casper Ruud, Kyrgios unleashed a volley of abuses, smashed his racquet and even flung a stool across the court. For his actions, he was fined and disqualified.
A look at ‘famous’ meltdowns on the tennis court:
Serena Williams, US Open 2009 and 2018
Star female athlete Serena Williams has been a part of not one but two very serious altercations with linespersons and umpires during her games at the US Open grand slam in 2009 and then again in 2018.
In 2009, facing Kim Clijsters in the final of the Grand Slam, Williams was called for a penalty on a foot fault, which made her lose a point and set up the championship point in favour of the Belgian. The American reacted, hurling a volley of abuses at the lineswoman which got the umpire and the tournament referee to hand out a second code violation to her. At 6-4 7-5 Clijsters was declared the winner.
During the women’s singles finals in 2018 versus Japan’s Naomi Osaka, Williams was warned with a coaching violation by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos. The 23-time grand slam winner lost her cool and argued with the umpire, calling him a thief for stealing her point in front of the home crowd. Eventually, Williams lost a point and Osaka won the game 6-2,6-4.
Roger Federer, US Open 2009
Even the usually mild-mannered Roger Federer was caught on the wrong end of the stick when he ended up berating umpire Jake Garner at the 2009 US Open finals. At 5-4 up and 30-all, the Hawk-Eye video technology denied Federer a set point after his opponent Juan Martin del Potro challenged a call by Garner.
The ruling went in Del Potro’s favour; the 20 year-old went on to take the set 7-5 and was back in the match. Federer was found guilty of cussing Garner and fined $1500 after the match.
Lleyton Hewitt, US open 2001
In what has been called as the most ridiculous tantrum, Lleyton Hewitt in a match at the US Open in 2001 against American James Blake threw an outburst when a linesman called foot fault on him, twice. Hewitt screamed at the umpire complaining about the linesman asking for him to be removed.
Hewitt shouted: “Look at him (the linesman) and tell me what the similarity is (beckoning towards Blake). I want him off the court, I’ve only been foot-faulted at one end. Look at what he’s done.”
John McEnroe, US Open 1987
Known as the bad boy of the tennis world, John McEnroe was handed the largest fine in the history of his on-court antics during 1987 US Open final. He was fined a massive $17,500 and two-month suspension for using profanity and criticising calls made on court.
According to an article by The New York Times, Ken Farrar the then supervisor of grand prix officials, handed out the fine taking view of the three offences that the chair umpire Richard Ings, had pointed out in the course of the match.
For his unsportsmanlike like conduct which was counted as his first offence, McEnroe was fined $500. The American was also fined $5000, maximum penalty, for abusing umpire Ings after forfeiting a point during the game. The third offence as cited by the umpire, was when the tennis star abused a man for holding a microphone.
As per the code of conduct, when a player is fined more than $7,500 in a 12-month period, an additional $10,000 is added. The slate is then wiped clean and if the player assesses fines of $7,500 again within the same 12-month period, another fine of $10,000 is added to the total along with suspension for two months. McEnroe fell in the latter category.
McEnroe took a seven-month break following the controversial US Open back in 1987 which included his suspension for two months.