23 most shocking moments in tennis by peter bodo
The 23 Most SHOCKING moments in tennis.
23. Wimbledon bombed, 1940. During WWII, Nazi launched its Blitz upon London. Oct 11, 1940, a bomb landed on centre court, no one’s hurt.
22. First ever Wimbledon streaker, 1996. A 23 yrs old female student who was working in the Tournament leapt into Centre court wearing only a maid’s pinny, which she graciously lifted for all the world to see. The finalists that day were Mal Washington and Krajicek.
21. Ivanisevic’s Wildcard win, 2001. (well, you know the story). Ivanisevic was as shocked as the rest of us.
20. Transsexual at USO, 1977. Dr Renee Richards, 42 years of age, lost to Virginia Wade. Richard Raskind, the former-self of Dr. Richards, competed as a man at the tournament in 1960. She was banned from WTA tourneys after being discovered as a transsexual. But the court ruled that would be infringing her human right, she was permitted to compete in WTA events within US and achieved a career high ranking of 26.
19. Player threatened with Mutilation, Moscow 1993. Top Russian tennis player Elena Makarova was shown on TV accepting a prize money cheque for AUD$1500, a man telephoned her mother and threatened to mutilate a member oft the family unless he received half the winnings. The cash was duly handed over. (this is really disgusting)
18. Muster’s legs crushed by car, Miami, March 1989. Muster was in his first ever TMS final in Miami. The eve of the final match, he was unloading his stuff from the car and a drunk-driver hit him. His left knee was severely injured and doctor said he won't be able to play for a year (well, at first doctor said he won't be able to return to tennis). But he got back to the tour in only 5 and a half month and eventually got to the top (#1 ranking).
17. Jelena Dokic’s father jailed, Birmingham, England, 1999. June 99, Damir Dokic was forcibly ejected from Birmingham’s Edgbason Club for shouting at everyone and telling them they were “fascists”. Once outside the club, he proceeded to lie down in front of traffic in the middle of the road and ended up spending the afternoon in jail.
16. McEnroe’s “Pits of the World!” Wimbledon, England, June, 1981. John McEnroe was playing Tom Gullikson on Wimbledon’s Court #1. Dinking a simple volley into the net, McEnroe turned to the umpire and asked: “I suppose that first serve was good?” “The serve was good”, replied the umpire. It was then that McEnroe turned away and uttered the immortal line: “ You guys are the pits of the world, you know that”. After a long pause, Thomas (the umpire) told McEnroe that he was going to award a point against him. The crowd cheered their approval and McEnroe went ballistic. “You are incompetent”, he screamed, “I’d like the referee brought out.
”In the ensuing chaos McEnroe was docked a second point. After he’d composed himself and won the match he was fined $1500. He was lucky not to be disqualified.
‘Super Brat’, as he was know after this tantrum, set a precedent in tennis like no other. From that day onwards players have been moaning, swearing, misbehaving and spitting the dummy like never before. And we spectators love it . (Yuck, I hate it. Look what you’ve done to this world, JMac. No wonder the McEnroes like Pandy so much, he’s practically a McEnroe breed).
15. Navratilova defects, New York, August 1975. Right in the middle of USO, Martina defected with the help of the FBI (Wow, really). After much negotiation and huge protest from the Czech authorities, she received her green card. She had to wait 5 years until became a US citizen. “That means five years of avoiding flights over Communist territory, just in case my plane would be forced to land and I would be taken off it”, she wrote. “I wasn’t taking any chances.”
14. Tennis spectator shot, Forest Hills, NY, 1977. In USO 1977, a spectator was sitting on the stadium court watching a match when he was shot in the leg by someone letting off a gun on the outside the court. Police never found out who was responsible. Perhaps they were too busy attending to the other crimes committed during the fortnight, like the bomb scare on the opening day, the bomb scare on the last day and the nutter who slashed his wrists outside the exclusive West Side Club restaurant.
13. Nasty Nastase disqualified and reinstated, Flushing Meadows, NY, 1979. During a match between 2 of the then most controversial players in the world – John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase – the vociferous judgment of the crowd led to the overruling of the umpire’s decision to disqualify the Romanian player. Tourney officials, fearful that fans would riot if they couldn’t watch Nastase play on, reinstated the wayward player, despite the fact that he had been warned for misconduct, been deducted a point, been deducted a game and then been legitimately disqualified – all in strict accordance with tennis’s code of conduct.
12. Tarango storms off court, Wimbledon, England, 1995. It all started when he queried a line call on his own service, which he was convinced should have been an ace. Forced to replay the point, the American’s temper rose, especially when the crowd started heckling him. “Shut up!” he eventually yelled into the stands, at which point the umpire issued a code violation for verbal abuse. Demanding to see the supervisor, who backed his colleague, Tarango then told the umpire: “You are the most corrupt official in the game”. When another code violation was imposed the enraged player then shouted “That’s enough! That’s it!” picked up his bag and stormed off the court. Appalled at the treatment her husband received, Tarango’s wife, Benedicte went up to the umpire after the match and slapped him . “He deserved it, “ she said unrepentantly. (Geez, how disgusting, don’t ppl have any respect for the umpire ).
11. Alleged Cocaine abuse, Paris, France, 1995. Swedish player Mats Wilander and Czech Davis Cup player Karel Novacek were tested positive for the Class A drug and were consequently fined and banned from playing. There had been suspicions that hard drugs had been used by some of the more wild players on the ATP Tour, but it wasn’t until Wilander and Novacek were busted that the authorities were faced with the evidence that tennis wasn’t immune. Finally tennis players were revealed to be human, just like athletes in every other sport. However, Wilander and Novacek protest their innocence to this day.
10. Gerulaitis gassed to death, Long Island, NY, USA, 1994. Former World #3 Vitas Gerulaitis always lived life to the edge. Known for his liking of various indulgences, it has been reported he came close to death several times before he finally departed this world. But it wasn’t alcohol or cocaine that killed him. On Sept 17, he was holding a coaching clinic in Long Island, when he decided to take an afternoon nap. He never woke up, fatally poisoned by carbon monoxide fumes from a faulty heater.
9. Borg’s alleged suicide attempt, Milan, Italy, 1989. For years Swedish player Bjork Borg was known as the cool man of tennis. So composed and dispassionate was he on court that the press nicknamed him “Ice Borg”. Imagine the shock in 1989 when he was rushed to hospital in Milan after what newspaper described as an attempt to take his life. His publicist’s tried to play down the affair, claiming that the 5 times Wimby champ was suffering from food poisoning. But hospital doctors revealed they’d found 60 sleeping pills in his stomach. The truth was never discovered.
8. Korda tests positive, London, England, 1998. When the Czech Republic’s Aussie Open champ, Petr Korda, tested positive for Nandrolone, his subsequent ban, fine and lengthy appeal process sent shockwaves throughout the tennis world. The main problem was that no one really knew what was going on. In July Korda was tested after his QF defeat at Wimby by Henman. After his samples proved to contain Nandrolone, his prize money and ranking points from Wimby were withdrawn. Then followed a confusing series of court decisions and appeals that eventually led to a playing ban and an ostracism of Korda by his fellow players. He still maintains his innocence.
7. Henman kicked out of Wimby, England, 1995. Never in the 117 years of the Championships at Wimby had a player suffered the ignominy of being disqualified. So when it proved to be a British player who stained the record, the shock was all the more colossal. During a doubles match with Jeremy Bates in the inauspicious setting of Court 14, Henman lost a crucial point in the 4th set TB. Frustrated, he picked up the ball and, in anger, whacked it down the court. It proved to be the last ball he ever hit that year at Wimby, for, to his horror it connected hard and fast with the ear of 16 yrs old ball girl Caroline Hall who was running across the court at the very same instant. Caroline hit the deck, the umpire immediately disqualified Henman and Bates, the future British #1 was forced to slink off court with his tail between his legs and a 2000 fine looming.
Tim, ever the gentleman, made a public apology the next day of the poor ball girl and tried to make up for his terrible blunder with a gift of flowers. Interestingly, Wimby disqualifications proved to be just like buses. You wait for 117 years and then suddenly 3 come along at once. Indeed four days after Henman’s gaffe, Jeff Tarango was booted out of the All England Club as was Murphy Jensen 2 days after that.
6. Career cut short in riding accident, San Diego, USA, 1954. At the age of 19 Maureen Connolly had already achieved more in tennis than most top players do in a lifetime. With 3 US National, 3 Wimby, 1 Aussie Open and 3 French titles to her name, she was already one of the sport’s greatest, and she was still only a teenager. ‘Little Mo’ as she was known, recalled her tragic horse-riding accident that cut short her career at 19: “The driver swerved the truck towards me. As he started to thunder by, my horse wheeled. I remember sharp stinging pain and I fell. I rolled up my trouser leg and saw my leg slashed to the bone, the flesh lying open”. This meant the end of her tennis. Even more tragically, she died of cancer at the age of 34.
5. Line judge dies on court, Flushing Meadows, NY, USA, 1983. Future Swedish great Stefan Edberg was playing the Aussie Simon Youl in the final of the USO boys’ event. Suddenly, out of the blue, one of the line judges, 60 yrs old Dick Wertheimer, received a direct hit from a tennis ball in the nether regions. He immediately fell off his chair, cracked his skull on one of the Flushing Meadows’ hard courts and suffered a heart attack on his way to hospital. Tragically, just a few days later, the poor man passed away.
4. Ashe contracts AIDS, NY, USA, 1991. The 3 times GS champ who had struggled so long and so hard for black players to be accepted into the sport of tennis, was diagnosed as having AIDS, a cruel result of infected blood transfused during a heart operation.
3. Jewish player commits suicide, Germany, 1933. It was one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of tennis, especially when you consider that, at the time, virtually everyone involved in the sport simply sat back and let it happen. The setting was 1930s Germany. Hitler ordered that all Jews should be ousted from public service and professions. The German tennis federation, like other sports governing bodies, yielded to the Nazi order and immediately ruled that “non-Aryans” were banned from representing Germany or serving on tennis committees.
Unfortunately, 2 of Germany’s best players were Jewish. Daniel Prenn, who had served his country magnificently in Davis Cup, and Nelly Neppach, the German women’s champ of 1925, suddenly found themselves persona non grata, despite having been considered national heroes for many years. But more shocking was that other international tennis governing bodies made no complaints at this terrible injustice. Only British players Fred Perry and Bunny Austin decried the action, writing a letter of protest to The Times newspaper.
Prenn was forced to flee the Nazis and ended up exiled in Britain. Neppach was not so lucky. She was so depressed by her misfortune that she took her own life.
2. Billie Jean sued by ex-lover, NY, USA, 1981. The fledging sport of women’s professional tennis was rocked to its foundations when the sport’s leading star and activist, BJ King, was sued by her former lesbian lover, Marilyn Barnett, who demanded 50% of King’s assets after the relationship cooled off.
The media went berserk because King was the first female tennis player to be ‘outed’, and it was the first ever case of palimony between same sex partners. In the end the court threw out Barnett’s case, but King suffered heavily on lost endorsement and sponsorship contracts. Sponsors dropped her in droves bcos none wished their products to be associated with a *** lifestyle. And King, who was already 37 at the time, continued to play on the pro tour until she was well past 40 bcos she couldn’t afford to retire.
1. The stabbing of Monica Seles, Hambury, Germany, 1993. The day Gunter Parche plunged his dagger into Monica Seles’s back during a change of ends at the Citizen Cup on April 30, 1993, was the day tennis ‘s innocence died. During the change over, Seles felt a searing pain just below her left shoulder blade and screamed out as Parche, a 38 yrs old unemployed lathe operator from Gorshach in eastern Germany, sunk a knife into her back.
Seles wasn’t seriously injured, but the blade had entered perilously close to her spinal cord. More worrying was the psychological damage that affected the then Yugoslav player for the next few years. “In the first moment I didn’t realize what had happened,” Seles recalled, “I couldn’t breathe. The pain came when someone pressed their hand on my back. It was like fog, somehow unreal, and I thought maybe I would be dead. I remember looking around the stadium and seeing the people with their mouths open, gasping. I only saw the man’s face for a split second. I turned and saw him as he raised the knife again.”
Seles was immediately rushed to hospital, her back bleeding profusely. Parche was wrestled into custody, his arm broken from being twisted so tightly behind his back by security guards. The infamous knife lay on the clay court where he had dropped it.
Parche turned out to be a crazed and obsessive Steffi Graf fan who stabbed Seles so that the former might be able to regain the World #1 spot. He was put on trial where he admitted causing grievous bodily harm. Bizarrely he was released from custody with a 2 year suspended sentence on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Seles has never played tennis in Germany again.