For any tennis fan Wimbledon is the highlight of the summer; this is not just because of the smell of cut grass, the taste of strawberries and cream or glass of Pimm’s, or even the warmth of the rare British sunshine. Wimbledon is a fan favourite because when it comes to tennis, it never disappoints. Being the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, as well as the only Grand Slam played on grass, it is no surprise that The Championships are keenly anticipated each year by both players and fans. As we wait for The Championships 2019, here is our pick of the greatest moments in the tournament’s history.
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The Final That Had Everything
Arthur Ashe vs Jimmy Connors - 1975
Being 10 years younger than Ashe and having not dropped a set all tournament, 22-year old Connors was the clear favourite to win and had beaten Ashe in all of their three previous meetings, all of which tournament finals. Despite having never beaten Connors, Arthur Ashe defied the odds and triumphed in the Wimbledon final of 1975 recovering from 3-0 down in the final set to win 6 - 1, 6 - 1, 5 - 7, 6 - 4. His victory was to be his last Grand Slam title as well as his only Wimbledon title.
The Unforgettable Tie-Break
Bjorn Borg vs John McEnroe - 1980
The rivalry between these two tennis players was one of the most iconic in sporting history and was epitomised in the 1980 Wimbledon final. Starting at opposite sides of the draw, with Borg seeded at 1 and McEnroe at 2, the 1980 Wimbledon men’s final had the potential to be a thriller from the outset. When the two players won their semi-final matches, both in four sets, the world of tennis knew that this final was not one to miss. The climax of the match was undoubtedly the mesmerising fourth set tie-break, which ended 18-16 to McEnroe. However, Borg came through this epic encounter victorious and made Wimbledon history, winning the title for the fifth time in a row.
The Infamous Outburst
John McEnroe vs Tom Gullikson - 1981
Every sport needs a bad boy, and John McEnroe filled the shoes for the sport of tennis. McEnroe was an extremely entertaining player to watch, known for his shot making artistry and volleying skills. However, many of McEnroe’s most entertaining moments came between points in the form of outbursts and tantrums, and no outburst of his is as memorable as in his first-round match against Gullikson in 1981. When McEnroe’s ace was called out he approached the umpire and began shouting for all of No. 1 Court to hear. His outburst gave us not only the most famous catchphrase in tennis, but one of the most famous in sport overall.
The Youngest Ever
Boris Becker vs Kevin Curren - 1985
When 20-year-old Bjorn Borg won The 1976 Wimbledon Championships, he became the youngest men’s champion of the 20th century. However just nine years later, unseeded 17-year-old Boris Becker beat Kevin Curren to become the youngest ever men’s champion, beating both Borg’s and Wilfred Baddeley’s record (Baddeley was 19 when he won the Championships in 1891). Becker’s route to the final was made a little easier, with top seeds McEnroe, Connors, Lendl and Wilander going out before they could face the German. However, as if to prove his triumph was not the luck of the draw, Becker went on to win The Championships the following year, beating first seed Ivan Lendl in straight sets in the final.
The Nine-Time Champion
Martina Navratilova vs Zina Garrison - 1990
Martina Navratilova won an impressive 18 Grand Slam titles in her career, half of which were won on the grass courts of SW19. This is still a Wimbledon record in both the men’s and ladies’ singles, but what makes Navratilova’s nine Wimbledon titles even more astonishing is that six of them were won consecutively from 1982 to 1987. These titles came at a time where some of women’s tennis’ biggest names were competing; Navratilova beat Steffi Graf to win her record breaking sixth title in a row and beat three-time champion Chris Evert a mere five times in Wimbledon finals.
The Passing of The Torch
Pete Sampras vs Rodger Federer - 2001
In 2001 Roger Federer, then 19 years of age, had never been past the third round in a Grand Slam. Pete Sampras on the other hand had, to date, amassed 13 Grand Slam Singles titles, 7 Wimbledon titles and had his sights set on a fifth title in a row. Federer’s disguised service placement surprised the American, and his movement, depth and angles worried Sampras throughout the match. The reigning champion found himself at 15-40, 5-6 down in the final set; his serve was met with a forehand winner down the line, followed but a roar from the crowd as the Swiss teenager fell to his knees in celebration, realising the significance of his victory. This match was to be the dawn of a new era in tennis, and it was the only time these two giants of the sport met in a ranking tournament.
The Greatest Ever Final
Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal - 2008
Rafael Nadal had beaten Roger Federer in twelve of their seventeen meetings before the Wimbledon final of 2008, however nine of these were on clay, and the Spaniard had never beaten Swiss on grass. Having won the five previous Championships, Federer was hoping to surpass Bjorn Borg’s record and win six in a row. With both players in incredible form, the match was always going to be spectacular, however nobody could have prepared for the five-set masterpiece that would ensue. Undoubtedly the greatest Wimbledon final ever, this match is a strong contender for the greatest tennis match in history.
The Marathon Match
John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut - 2010
Starting on Court 18 on Tuesday 22 June 2010, and finishing two days later on Thursday 24 June, this match is the longest in Wimbledon history lasting 11 hours and 5 minutes; the final set ended with a score of 70-68 and lasted over 8 hours. Over 200 aces were hit over the course of the match and 980 points and 183 games were played. With talks of a final set tie-break being introduced it is unlikely a feat like this will ever be witnessed again and, though Isner was victorious, both names have been immortalised.
The 76 Year Wait
Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic - 2013
When Andy Murray reached the 2012 Wimbledon final he became the first Brit to do so since Bunny Austin in 1938. However, Murray was undone by Federer’s brilliance and the nation’s hopes of a new Fred Perry were not realised. He returned to SW19 in 2013 having won at Queen’s Club a week before and looked to be on great form. Apart from a quarterfinal scare, going 2 sets down to Verdasco, Murray made his way to the final with relative ease where he would face first seed and world number 1 Novak Djokovic. Although the match lasted over three hours, Murray defeated the Serb in straight sets and became the first British man to win at Wimbledon in 76 years. This moment will be long remembered by British tennis fans, who may never see another Brit win at Wimbledon.
The Greatest of All Time
Roger Federer vs Marin Cilic - 2017
Compared to the other matches on this list, the 2017 Wimbledon final is nothing special, with Federer winning comfortably against Cilic in three sets. However, this is arguably Federer’s most significant title of them all as it was his 8th title at The Championships, which saw him pass Pete Sampras and William Renshaw’s records to become the only man to win 8 Wimbledon titles. To add to the significance of his win, Federer became the oldest singles champion of the open era and only the second man after Bjorn Borg to win Wimbledon without dropping a set. There is no doubt that Roger Federer is the greatest player that Wimbledon has ever seen, and it is unlikely that his achievements will be matched in our lifetimes.
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