Everything you need to know about Wimbledon 2019
The greatest- ever game?
Described by John McEnroe as the greatest-ever game, to say the 2008 final between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal was an epic would be an understatement. The two best players in the world at the time, both at the peak of their powers, and it showed as they played out an all-time classic in SW19. The only disappointment was that somebody, in this case Federer, had to lose. He had beaten Nadal in the previous two finals and it was time for the Spaniard, known as the King of Clay, to finally taste victory on grass. It went right to the wire, with Nadal winning the fifth set 9-7 in dramatic circumstances. What a match
Probably the most famous sporting rant of all-time, McEnroe’s tirade at umpire Edward James in 1981 will never be forgotten. It was a simple disagreement. The American star thought his shot was in, but the umpire called it out, prompting McEnroe to explode. “You can’t be serious, man,” he said. “You cannot be serious. That ball was on the line. Chalk flew up. It was clearly in. How can you possibly call that out? He’s walking over. Everybody knows it’s in in the whole stadium. And you call it out? You guys are the absolute pits of the world, you know that?” His mood had changed significantly by the end of the tournament, however, as he went on to secure the trophy. Phew.
Young gun Becker triumphs
To even be competing at Wimbledon at the age of 17 is some achievement, but to actually win the competition, as Boris Becker did in 1985, was simply stunning. The German’s triumph was made all the more remarkable by the fact he went into the tournament unseeded. The draw was relatively kind as Becker avoided the favourites such as McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, but at 17 you take whatever luck comes your way. In the final he faced Kevin Curren, with the youngster cruising to victory in four sets. It would be the first of three Wimbledon wins, with Becker coming out on top a year later, and again in 1989.
Novota’s royal tears
Everybody watching the 1993 women’s final felt for Jana Novotna as she was beaten by Steffi Graf having surrendered a healthy advantage in the game, but the most poignant moment arrived after the match, when the trophy was about to be presented. As 24-year-old Novotna was given her runner-up trophy, she broke down in tears on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent, who did her best to comfort the Czech star. Five years later, she would return to the scene, but this time in happier circumstances as she won the competition. It was the Duchess of Kent who presented Novotna with the trophy in what was a wonderful moment for both women.
That epic tiebreaker
When Bjorn Borg and McEnroe went head-to-head in the 1980 final, it was deemed a battle between contrasting styles. What followed was an epic contest, but the most memorable part of the game came at the end of the fourth set when the duo played out an unbelievable tie-breaker, with McEnroe somehow managing to save seven match points, before going on to win 18-16. Sadly for the American, though, it was Borg who prevailed as he dusted off the tie-break disappointment and took the fifth and final set. The greatest tie-break in tennis history, according to many, and who are we to argue?
Ivanisevic’s crowning moment
Who could forget Goran Ivanisevic’s triumph in 2001? A stunning victory with added plotlines such as the fact he had already been beaten in three finals, as well as having only entered the competition as a wildcard on account of injury. Ivanisevic had eliminated local favourite Tim Henman at the semi-final stage, but such was his appeal the crowd were still fully behind him when he faced Pat Rafter in the final. A delay to the match because of rain (of course) meant it stretched into the Monday, which merely added to the drama as the Croat came out on top in what he described as the most beautiful moment of his career. Lovely stuff.
Murray ends long wait
When Andy Murray stepped onto Centre Court to play the 2013 final against Novak Djokovic, it’s fair to say the Scot was carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. No British player had won Wimbledon since 1936, and the fact Murray had been beaten by Federer in the previous final only added to the pressure. However, he started well and never looked back. In truth, the outcome proved far more straightforward than anybody could have predicted, with Murray winning in straight sets. Finally the wait was over. Both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski had threatened to go all the way in the years preceding Murray’s arrival on the scene, with no joy. For him, it was a different story. With a magical ending.
Martina the record breaker
When Martina Navratilova stepped out for the 1990 final there was an added incentive for her to get the better of Zina Garrison. Victory would secure her ninth Wimbledon title, eclipsing Helen Wills’ all-time record of eight. It was never in doubt. Navratilova had been in devastating form right through the tournament, not losing a single set. It was a theme that continued into the final, with Garrison having no answer to her opponent. Navratilova entered the history books, and it’s a record which still stands.
Ashe shocks Connors
Perhaps the biggest upset in terms of the Wimbledon men’s final came in 1975 when Arthur Ashe, whose best days were thought to be behind him, overcame the seemingly unbeatable Connors. Ashe, who was 31, went into the contest as a huge underdog but made light work of his more illustrious opponent, winning the match in four sets. He remains the only black player to have won
The long game
The first-round match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010 wasn’t expected to live long in the memory. Isner was never going to challenge for the title, and his opponent’s chances were even slimmer. Both men, however, would earn a place in the record books after playing out the longest match in tennis history. The game lasted over 11 hours and stretched across three days, largely down to the fact the fifth and final set ended 70-68 to Isner. Those poor ball boys.