With Wimbledon due to begin on Monday, we take a look at six of the most memorable moments from the world’s top tennis event, from John McEnroe’s infamous on-court meltdown to streakers on centre court.
McEnroe’s meltdown, 1981
These days he’s (mostly) a mild-mannered tennis commentator but in his hey day John McEnroe was every umpire’s worst nightmare, not least because he was prone to going ballistic over even minor disagreements.
His most famous tennis tantrum came in 1981 when he repeatedly shouted at the umpire: “You cannot be serious!”
His ‘superbrat’ image had been cemented during his first Wimbledon outing in 1977 when, in a quarter-final against Phil Dent he lost a first-set tie-break and began bending his racket over his head, which drew boos from the crowd.
Sir Cliff Richard sings, 1996
It was the summer of ‘96... Brian Adams must have been somewhere else but lovey Clif Richard was at Wimbledon soaking up the, err, rain. The falling down wet stuff went on so long that commentators had every last morsel of idle chit-chat washed out of them, which forced them to come up with the idea of interviewing Sir Cliff, whom they’d cannily spotted in the crowd earlier.
As the interview ended, Cliff was asked to sing, which he did, starting, ironically, with ‘Summer Holiday’. He also belted out All Shook Up and Living Doll before play resumed.
Short Skirts Rule, 1949
Not so long ago, men played the noble game of tennis in sensible long trousers, while the womenfolk had to put up with modesty protecting dresses so long they would make a Victorian flinch. But thankfully all that changed (or started to at least) in 1949 when ‘Gorgeous Gussie’ Moran (real name Gertrude) dared to show off her legs by wearing a short skirt which occasionally showed her nickers. I say. In language which today might be mistaken for that of a religious fanatic, the All-England Club claimed she had brought ‘vulgarity and sin into tennis’.
Murray wins (& smiles), 2013
Andy Murray was once a contender for the most boring man in sport while simultaneously already holding the title of ‘grumpiest person from Scotland’ but all that changed after someone somewhere realised he actually had what it took to win Wimbledon and that, despite being Scottish, he was still technically British, which meant people from England could safely and shamelessly embrace him as one of their own. Hurrah. Murray managed to pull off the impossible dream and win Wimbledon, breaking the UK’s 77-year-long loosing streak. Hip, hip...
Agassi breaks ban, 1991
Back in the day Andre Agassi’s hair looked like something from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. In fact, his bonce was probably mightier. Channelling every 90s male icon with a mullet, he was a cross between a MacGyver, a blow-dried poodle and Justin Lee Collins. The exception being he could play tennis. When this was combined with a snazzy headband and clothing so loud it would make John McEnroe cringe, it made for a formidable on-court combination. The authorities criticised him and he refused to play but decided to return in 1991, boringly, just wearing white.
Centre court streaker, 1996
Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands and MaliVai Washington of the US smile as an unidentified streaker runs across centre court during their men’s singles final, just before their match was due to get underway. The mystery woman managed to bring smiles all round as she jogged around the court before being gently escorted out of sight by two policemen.
BBC commentator John Barrett was also caught short and quipped: “I never thought I’d see that on the centre court. The two boys hardly knew where to look.” But a cursory glance of their faces tells a different story...