5 of the Greatest (and Controversial) Moments in Tennis History

Tennis history is full of spectacular moments, from marvellous wins to sublime rivalries and even controversial events. After all, tennis is a game of surprises. There’d been a multitude of great occurrences that define and redefine tennis since time immemorial. However, these had been the greatest and some, contentious thus far, in no particular order.

Greatest (and Controversial) Moments in the History of Tennis

1) Monica Seles stabbing incident

Proving how influential the Seles vs Steffi Graf rivalry then, it compelled a fan to stab Seles on April 13, 1993. The incident happened during a match and was inflicted by a mentally ill Graf fan. In 1993, Seles showed her finest games.

Seles was stabbed in the back, affecting her tennis capacities and skills after that. Seles was formerly ranked #1, but Graf brought low her ranking. Eventually, Graf became the #1 player in women’s category. 

2) Rafael Nadal’s win against Roger Federer

Nadal versus Federer was one of the most-followed tennis rivalries of all time. Federer has always been ahead of Nadal. But Nadal won over him in Wimbledon 2008 men’s singles finals after 4 hours and 48 minutes – one of the longest in the history of tennis where incredible sportsmanship was in full display. 

The prior year, he came too close to winning his first Wimbledon until he faltered and lost. This had the spectators anticipating their 2008 match that did not disappoint. It was even considered as the greatest match in history. Nadal’s memorable winning moment caused him to collapse on the court, albeit happily. He was the first Spanish tennis player to win Wimbledon after 40 long years.

3) Roger Federer smashed his racquet

In a shocking display of strong emotions from arguably one of the coolest players in tennis, a frustrated Federer smashed his racquet on the ground. It was during the 2009 Miami Open where he met with Novak Djokovic.

The crowd booed Federer, even eliciting surprised reactions from the sportscasters since he was not a “boo-boo” player. But it was the only time he had experienced a negative reception since he has always been the mild-mannered one. 

4) Andre Agassi’s emotional retirement speech

Agassi’s tennis career has been the most inconsistent in terms of victories and defeats. He had his moot moments, but everyone would remember his iconic speech after losing the game in the 2006 US Open.

Agassi suffered from a back injury that compelled him to retire earlier than expected. He was under strong painkillers. An emotional Agassi bade goodbye through one of the most iconic retirement speeches the spectators had seen.

5) John McEnroe hurt the King of Sweden

McEnroe, or Mr Erratic as he was called, was known for his outbursts on and off the court. In one of his episodes during the 1984 Stockholm finals, he lost his cool and vented out by hitting a table full of refreshments. Some flew to the crowd and struck King Carl XVI Gustaf.

McEnroe realized what he had done. Fortunately for him, the Kind downplayed what happened and the ever-emotional notoriously outspoken tennis player did not receive any punishment.

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4 of the Greatest Men’s Tennis Rivalries of the Last Decade

If you’ve seen Borg vs. McEnroe, you’d ask yourself: if this is not the greatest tennis rivalry, then what is? Nothing, but perhaps one of these modern rivalries is a forthcoming, movie-screen worthy the tennis world is waiting.

Men’s tennis rivalries are as intense as that of the women’s. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Andy Murray, and 2019 Wimbledon men’s singles champion, Novak Djokovic are some of the greatest players in recent history. The Golden Era of Tennis is all thanks to these men.

Each has their fair share of momentous rivalries, though. The majority of which are ongoing rivalries and are listed below.

Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray

Djokovic and Murray had a storied rivalry that started in 2006 with Djokovic’s 14 Grand Slam singles titles as opposed to Murray with only 3. They had seven Grand Slam finals meeting. In the Open era, the Serb and Brit were seeded to meet in the Australian Open finals for four times. 

Nonetheless, their 2012 US Open Grand Slam matchup has been one for the books. The game ended after almost 5 hours, with Murray winning his first major title. In 2013, they met again at Wimbledon that Murray had also won. He was the first Brit to win the London major for the first time since 1936.

Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer

Although Federer has more Grand Slam titles with 20 compared with Djokovic’s 13, Djokovic often prevailed during their head-to-head meetings. Djokovic and the Swiss had a total of 45 meetings.

Dubbed as the male version of the earlier rivalry between Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, the two are the Open era’s hardcourt players. They were the only ones to beat each other in Grand Slam tournaments. Djokovic prevailed over Federer, however, at the 2014, 2015, and 2019 Wimbledon as well as 2011 and 2015 US Open. Federer defeated Djokovic in 2007 US Open, and also in 2008 during the semifinals, which is considered as another classic.

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal

Interestingly, Djokovic leads their head-to-head career meeting with 27 against Nadal’s 25. On the other end of the court, however, Nadal leads Grand Slam tournaments meetings with 9 to 5, finals with 4 to 3 and singles titles with 17 to 13. Their meetings have been the hardest to predict, experts agreed.

Nadal had 14 more faceoffs with Djokovic than with Federer. Djokovic and Nadal were the two top tennis players to meet in four Grand Slam finals. Nadal won nine of their 14 meetings and four in seven meetings on Grand Salm finals. Their 2012 Australian Open finals was considered as one of the greatest Grand Slam finals at almost 6 hours. Djokovic won in five sets.

Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer

Two of the most respected tennis players in the Open era, Nadal and Federer rivalry is an even matchup. Nadal leads Grand Slam tournaments head-to-head meetings and finals with 9 and 3, respectively, against Federer’s 3 and 3. However, Federer has more Grand Slam titles with 20 compared with that of Nadal’s with 17. They had a total of 38 meetings.

Their most epic game was the 2008 Wimbledon final–their third consecutive year. Federer was looking to win his sixth consecutive Centre Court finals trophy, but Nadal won’t let him. Nadal got the better of Federer in a five-set win. Their most recent duel was the 2017 Australian Open final, with which Federer has also won.


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5 of the Greatest Women’s Tennis Rivalries of the Last Decade

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova’s rivalry is considered the mother of all women’s tennis rivalries of all time. But their time has ended, and one of these modern rivalries are worth every spectator’s pondering.

Although women’s tennis is awaiting the next age of rivalries, time and again, rivalries (of epic proportions) happen on and off-court.

Below are the greatest women’s tennis rivalries of the last ten years.

Kim Clijsters vs Justine Henin

Both Belgians, Clijsters and Henin had 25 overall meetings with the former winning 13 of them. However, Henin won three out of three of their Grand Slam matches–French Open, US Open, and Australian Open.

Clijsters, on the other hand, prevailed at their last three matches – at the Brisbane International, Miami Open, and at Wimbledon – to end their rivalry in 2010. Clijsters won these matches in just three sets. Henin has 7 Grand Slam titles while Clijsters has 4.

Serena Williams vs Martina Sharapova

Williams and Sharapova are each other’s archnemesis. They met 21 times, but Williams prevailed over and over, winning 19 of these games. On the other hand, Sharapova defeated Williams twice in 2004 including her phenomenal Grand Slam finals win when she was only 17 years old. She became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion. 

Since 2007, Sharapova has not defeated Williams. Of all the sets they’ve played, Williams won 34 out of 36. Williams leads the rivalry with 19 against Sharapova’s two wins.

Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka

Williams may have the advantage over Azarenka, a Belarussian, with a 17 to 3 advantage. Nevertheless, Azarenka is one of the few tennis players who can push Williams to the edge.

Since 2008, they met up to 23 times with Williams prevailing in 19 of these games. Their 2012 US Open game was considered a classic. Although Williams dominated the match with a three-sets straight win, their style is competitive and compelling. In 2016 Indian Wells Masters, Azarenka won over Williams with a two-sets straight win.

Serena Williams vs Venus Williams

A sibling rivalry in tennis is rare, but Serena and Venus proved that one has won out over the other. The younger Williams met with her sister for a total of 29 head-to-head games throughout their career. Serena dominates the stats, cupping 23 Grand Slam singles titles compared with Venus’s 7.

At the start, Venus was ahead of Serena wherein she won their first three head-to-head and 2001 US Open Grand Slam final meetings. Venus won again against Serena in 2008 Wimbledon, and that’s it. The rest was Serena’s wins onward an impressive 23 titles, although both were ranked #1 in different times.

Simona Halep vs Serena Williams

Although criticised for targeting three sets when they should be playing five, Halep chose to end the match with just two sets against Williams. In 2015, it was a predicted rivalry, when Williams was already #1 and Halep, #3, that only happened in 2019.

Since 2011, they met 11 times head-to-head, but Halep won over just three of these matches. The 2015 Miami Open semifinals, where Williams prevailed over Halep in three sets, fueled the rivalry while earning the top seed’s respect of how she plays her game.

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