The 8 Best Moments In Wimbledon History - Men's Health Magazine Australia

The 8 Best Moments In Wimbledon History

As the tennis greats look to seize the coveted Wimbledon Grand Slam title, we look back at some of the greatest sporting moments that took place at the hallowed grounds.
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As sporting tournaments go, few are as steeped in glory and historic tradition as Wimbledon. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a tennis fan or not, it’s hard not to get an inkling of excitement as you see the stars descend to the famed Wimbledon grounds. From the legends of the game donning their crisp whites as they look to see their name added to the Wimbledon trophy, to the Hollywood stars and sporting giants that sit, dressed to perfection, in the stands, everywhere you look, Wimbledon delivers a kind of star-blinding moment, like being dazzled by a camera flash in the darkness. 

If world class tennis, strawberries and cream is a recipe for an iconic sporting event, then Wimbledon certainly delivers. Since 1876, the annual tennis tournament has taken place at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, attracting tennis royalty including the likes of Fred Perry, Venus and Serena Williams, Bjorn Borg, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. There have been nail-biting finals, grand upsets, and the kind of monumental victories that saw audiences reeling from their seats, swept up in the emotion of a pipe dream made lived reality. 

After the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2021 hits a little different. You can practically see the ecstasy of returning to such an event etched into the expressions of the players. The luscious green grass might look inviting, but for the players it’s a different beast entirely. Already, 2021’s tournament has delivered some shocking upsets, namely that of Serena Williams bowing out in the first-round due to injury. But as the biggest stars in tennis embark on a quest to put their name on that trophy, we take a look back at some of the best sporting moments the tournament has delivered. 

Nadal v Federer, 2008

Two of the sport’s most beloved players and famed rivals took to a Wimbledon final set for the history books. It’s since been hailed by ESPN as the most memorable Wimbledon final in the Open Era. Heading into the final, Federer had not lost a match at Wimbledon since 2002 and was shooting for his sixth straight Wimbledon crowd. Nadal had been getting better on grass, but was still largely only known as the master of clay. That all changed over a match that lasted four hours and 48 minutes, the longest singles final in Wimbledon history, which ended at 9:16 pm local time. While Federer fought off a pair of match points and even won the tiebreaker 10-8 to even the match, Nadal ultimately prevailed to be crowned Wimbledon champion. 

The historic marathon of Isner v Mahut

It might not have been a final, but that didn’t matter when it came to the iconic marathon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. The match lasted more than eleven hours and spanned three days, with the lengthy rallies being some of the most incredible in tennis history. The dramatic tension was just extraordinary, captivating audiences around the world who watched stunned. Isner eventually went on to win the final set 70-68 and a statute was later built to commemorate the contest. 

Andy Murray wins his first Wimbledon Grand Slam, 2013

Even if you weren’t an Andy Murray fan, to see the Brit shouldering the hopes of his country for so many years was enough to convert you. It was an iconic moment then, when Murray took to Centre Court for the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic. For 77 years, a Wimbledon victory had eluded British tennis stars. But when Murray came up against a drained Djokovic, he stormed to victory with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win. The crowd erupted and the emotion for both Murray, his family and all the audience was palpable.  

The Djokovic v Federer Showdown, 2019

When two of the arguably biggest talents in tennis face-off in a Wimbledon final, you can guarantee that the result will be gripping hours of tennis. Such was the case with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in 2019. The match went for five incredible sets, with the last proving the most exciting of all. While Federer looked close to pulling away with victory, Djokovic showcased his strength on returns and court defence, coming back from the edge with a psychological strength that has seen him go on to dominate the game. He won the title 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 13-12 (7-3).

“You cannot be serious,” 1981

In a year that saw John McEnroe win the Wimbledon Grand Slam, the feat itself was largely obscured by a quote that has now become the stuff of pop culture phenomena: “You cannot be serious.” During a first-round match, McEnroe unleashed an outburst at an elderly chair umpire. “You can’t be serious, man. 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? (Pause) You guys are the absolute pits of the world, you know that?”

Serena Williams levels the great Steffi Graf, 2016

Though Serena has become something of a fixture on Centre Court at Wimbledon, it was her last Wimbledon title to date that proved incredibly special. Her 7-5, 6-3 win over Angelique Kerber was thrilling, with a first set that kept the crowd on their toes. Though Williams seemed to storm to victory, the moment proved history as she drew level with the great Steffi Graf on 22 Grand Slam singles titles. 

The Djokovic v Del Potro epic, 2013

Considered by many to be one of the greatest matches on Centre Court, this semi-final went for a staggering four hours and fourty-four minutes. The quality of athleticism was profound, and while Del Potro’s power certainly would have been too good for most, Djokovic proved his defensive prowess along with the flourishes of brilliance that make him one of the best the sport has ever seen. Djokovic took the match 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3. Sadly, this performance and the length of it largely saw him drained for the final against Andy Murray. 

The Borg-McEnroe tiebreaker, 1980

Considered one of the most riveting 22 minutes in tennis history, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe battled it out in a fourth-set tiebreaker 18-16. With their different personalities, styles and playing prowess, it made for gripping tennis. Borg had five match points in the tiebreaker and McEnroe had six set points before he captured the fourth set on his seventh set0point. Despite losing the 34-point tiebreaker, Borg rallied to win the fifth set and the match, leading to his fifth straight Wimbledon crown. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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