Equal opportunity tennis tantrums
Serena Williams believes she was punished more severely for her outburst in the US Open final because she is a woman. Does she have a point? There have been tantrums throughout tennis history, by both men and women...
Serena Willians' attempts to convince the tournament referee and supervisor to overturn the chair umpire's decision met with understanding expressions but deaf ears. After labelling umpire Carlos Ramos a thief, Williams then accused the Portuguese of sexism, and was fined $17,000 (€14,700).
It wasn't the first time that Williams has called a tournament referee and supervisor down onto the court. At the 2009 US Open, when a line judge called a foot fault at match point, therefore handing Williams' opponent Kim Clijsters the match, a furious Williams threatened to "take a ball and ram it down your throat!" She was fined $117,000 and given a two-year suspended ban.
John McEnroe is in a league of his own when it comes to on-court outbursts and fits of fury. In 1990, the American became the first player to be disqualified from the Australian Open after telling the umpire to do something inappropriate with his mother. Only McEnroe knows how much he paid in fines throughout his career. In 1987, he was even banned for two months after a tantrum at the US Open.
Marcos Baghdatis was only fined $800 for his outburst at the 2012 Australian Open, but the Cypriot star probably ended up paying more for new equipment after destroying not just one but FOUR racquets during one change of ends. Two of them were still in their packaging. "Four racquets? Wow, that's impressive!" commented - of all people - Serena Williams at the time.
In May 2018, Karolina Pliskova lost the plot at a tournament in Rome. Although the line judge couldn't point to a mark in the clay where the ball had allegedly been out, the chair umpire upheld the incorrect decision. After going on to lose the match, Pliskova then refused to shake the umpire's hand, smashing a hole in the umpire's chair instead. She received a four-figure fine.
Oh, how embarrassing! It was at Wimbledon of all places that British favorite Tim Henman lost his cool, angrily smashing a ball which hit a ball girl on the head. Consequently, Henman became the first player to be disqualified from Wimbledon, but charming Tim regained his gentlemanly reputation by apologizing publicly to the ball girl, giving her a bunch of flowers and a kiss on the cheek.
1995 was a great year for Wimbledon tantrums. After a dispute with the umpire and the crowd, Jeff Tarango packed up his things and stormed off court. Beneath the stands, his wife Benedicte accosted the umpire and slapped him twice in the face, for which her husband was fined $63,000 and handed a two-year ban from all Grand Slams. The punishment was later reduced to $20,000 and a one-year ban.
It wasn't intentional but it left a mark. At Queens in 2012, David Nalbandian kicked out in frustration at the wooden base of a line judge's chair, sending a splinter flying into the judge's shin and leaving a bloody gash. Nalbandian was disqualified and fined $70,000. In the same year, he had sprayed water in an umpire's face at the Australian Open for which he had to pay $8,000.
In a Davis Cup match between Canada and Great Britain in February 2017, 17-year-old Denis Shapovalov angrily smashed a ball away, hitting umpire Arnaud Gabas directly in the eye. The eye immediately swelled up and the Frenchman later had to undergo an operation on a broken eye socket. Canada were knocked out, Shapovalov was disqualified and he was fined $7,000.
Alexander Zverev didn't take his exit from Wimbledon this year very well. First, he received a warning for arguing with a line judge, before complaining: "He just wants to be important on the big stage at Wimbledon for once! So we remember his face!" The umpire who handed down the warning? Serena Williams' "friend' Carlos Ramos!