Tennis has seen its fair share of controversies since the turn of the millennium. Doping scandals, players losing it on the court, players throwing chair & changing shorts and match-fixing allegations.
Here we shall take a look at five occasions when controversies rocked the sport.
Nadal Demands Umpire Never Officiates His Matches
The 19-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal, is one of the most well behaved and nice guys on the tour. Someone who never throws his racket swears at his opponents or gives controversial press conferences. But there have been a few rare occasions when the Spaniard did lose his cool. And one such occasion was when he demanded ATP to not have Carlos Bernades as the umpire in his matches.
In February 2015, Bernades was the umpire in the Rio Open semi-finals between Rafael Nadal & Fabio Fognini. Nadal wanted to change his sweat-soaked shorts but the umpire did not allow him to go inside the dressing room to do so.
Nadal had to eventually change the shorts on the court in front of 7000 crowd. He messed it up by wearing them backwards. The Spaniard lost the match which ended his 52 matches unbeaten streak on the clay.
In 2018 Wimbledon, Nadal once again received two-time violations from the same umpire in his match against Kukushkin. the Spaniard, later on, admitted a problem with the Brazilian umpire & confirmed that he had asked ATP to keep Bernades away from his matches but he said it was just a request and not a demand of any sorts.
He did admit that lack of respect between the two was the major reason behind the request.
The Wrong German Anthem
“Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles, uber alles in der Welt”. This is a version of German national anthem which has long been obsolete. Even though written a long time ago in the 18the century, it is largely associated with its use during the Nazi rule.
So the German Fed cup team players were surely shocked when this version of the anthem was played before their away tie against the USA in 2017. A male soloist sang the tune in front of the shocked German team and the crowd. The USTA eventually had to apologise for the mishap but it did not stop the outrage.
Andrea Petkovic who was part of that German team described the incident “Horrifying and shocking”. She added that it was embarrassing and showed the ignorance of America. USTA apologised to the German team & its fans and also played the correct version of the anthem for the remainder of the occasions in that tie.
Serena Williams’ On-Court Rants
Arguably the greatest female player in the history of the sport, Serena Williams has had a long list of controversies as well. From being accused at the start of her career about her father fixing matches of Williams sisters (also read why Serena was booed at Indian Wells here) to wearing a skin-hugging black catsuit in French Open 2018. But her on-court rants have been one thing that has taken the tennis world by storm time and again.
During the 2009 US Open semi-final against Kim Clijsters, Serena was already on a racket abuse warning from the first set. And then she also received a foot fault which gave her opponent a match point.
Williams reacted angrily to the line judge and threatened to kill her and shove the tennis ball down her throat! She immediately received a point penalty and lost the match. She was also fined $82500 for the act.
Once again in the US Open 2018 final Serena received a point and a game penalty from umpire Carlos Ramos because of a triple code violation. She got it because of coaching, racket abuse and verbal abuse. She called the umpire a “thief” and a “liar”. This ugly incident left the winner Naomi Osaka in tears after the event.
Andre Agassi’s Doping Confessions
Andre Agassi’s doping confessions rocked the sport in 2009. The former world number one and eight-time Grand Slam champion Agassi confessed in his autobiography that he had used drugs during his career. Even though at the time of allegations he pleaded innocence.
He wrote a letter to the tennis authorities saying that his friend had spiked his drink and he knew nothing about it.
Agassi’s autobiography was his first public admission both about his use of the drugs as well as the lies he told to the authorities. He also admitted that he had told his wife and former tennis star and 22-time Grand Slam winner Steffi Graf about his drugs problem at the beginning of their relationship.
There was a lot of controversy at the time of his confession. There were also calls about stripping the American of his Grand Slam and world ranking records as well. The calls were led by former world number one Russian Marat Safin. He had asked the American to return all the prize money and medals.
Kyrgios Moth to the Controversy Flames
The 24-year-old Australian is one of the most talented players on the tour. He reached the last eight of Wimbledon just at the age of 19 in 2014. At the time he was lauded as the next first time Grand Slam champion. But constant on-field violations, controversies and admission of losing interest in the sport has led him to trouble on multiple occasions.
He has been accused of tanking matches, verbal abuse and unsportsmanlike behaviour by many past and present players, including John McEnroe. In 2015 Rogers Cup he was fined for insulting his opponent Stan Wawrinka.
Once again he got into trouble & was banned for eight weeks a year later for “not trying” & deliberately “tanking” in a match. He openly stated in 2017 that he loved Basketball more than tennis.
In the 2017 Shanghai Masters, he openly said before a tiebreaker that he would retire from the match if he lost the tie break. He did retire after losing the tiebreaker which he claimed was because of a stomach bug.
In 2019 he threw a chair on the court for losing a point at the Italian Open & once again lashed out at the umpire during Cincinnati Open the same year. He was fined $113000 and banned from the sport for 16 weeks.
Do let us know what you think of these incidents and if you have any suggestions to add to this.