When Wimbledon is Cancelled: 15 Moments Worth Rewatching

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Wimbledon joined the long list of cancelled sporting events earlier in the week, with organisers at the All England Club choosing to abandon the tournament for the first time since 1945.

It’s another tough pill to swallow for sports fans with many more major tournaments likely to be affected. Therefore, to help you fill the void, we thought we’d try and raise your spirits by recapping some timeless Wimbledon moments worth reliving!

2013: Britain’s 77-Year Wait

Some might say Andy Murray has underachieved during his lengthy 15-year career, but he probably sleeps well at night knowing he snapped Britain’s 77-year Wimbledon drought back in 2013. 

Murray defeated No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets to become the first Brit to win the men’s title since Fred Perry in 1936. Normally a straight-sets victory isn’t anything to get too excited about, but you could almost feel the pressure and anxiety at the All England Club replaced with instant jubilation when Djokovic hit the net on match point. 

2001: The Return of Ivanisevic

Tennis crowds (and let’s face it, tennis people) are often mocked for being a little, well… prissy. 

In 2001, the atmosphere ahead of the men’s final between wild card Goran Ivanisevic and No. 3 seed Pat Rafter felt more like a soccer match at Anfield as opposed to the quiet, respectable scenes we normally see at the All England Club. 

Rain postponed the final from Sunday to Monday, so organisers were forced to hand out tickets to the first arriving fans at the gate. As expected, everyday blue-collar Joe’s jumped at the chance and camped out overnight to get a ticket. 

As a result, flags and plenty of colours could be seen on the broadcast and the players responded to the loud crowd by putting on a show. Ivanisevic, who made the final at Wimbledon three times prior, prevailed in a thrilling five-set victory over the Aussie to become the first unseeded player to win at Wimbledon since Boris Becker in 1985. 

2010: 70-68 

It’s hard to believe that the longest tennis match in history occurred 10-years ago, but we all knew this 11 hour, five-minute slugfest would go down as one of the most memorable matches in Wimbledon history.

American John Isner was ranked No. 19 at the time and was the heavy favourite against 148th-ranked Nicolas Mahut. Isner prevailed in the end winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 – with that famous fifth set being the obvious talking point right around the world. 

The match broke numerous tennis records, including the most games in a set (138 in the fifth), most games in a match (183 overall) and most aces by one player (Isner’s 113). 

Perhaps what makes this so memorable though is the fact it wasn’t two top seeds battling it out, but instead, two lesser-known players meeting in the first round on Court 18. This was also one of those “where were you when?” type moments that will never be forgotten.

1981: You Cannot Be Serious 

Even if you aren’t a tennis fan, chances are you’ve heard John McEnroe’s famous spat with the chair umpire during his first-round match at Wimbledon in 1981. 

The “You Cannot Be Serious!” quote has featured in dozens of ads and was even the title of McEnroe’s 2002 New York Times best-selling book. 

2008: Rafa & Rog

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went the distance in the 2008 men’s final – a match that is widely regarded as one of the all-time Wimbledon greats.

Nadal defeated Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 to secure his fifth Grand Slam title, but there was plenty more the story. Two rain delays brought a halt to proceedings before the final set was played almost in darkness.

Federer beat Nadal in the 2006 Wimbledon final before defending his crown a year later in a rematch against the Spaniard, so the buildup to this match made it even greater. Federer had also never lost a Grand Slam final outside of the French Open and was undefeated at the All England Club dating back to 2002, so to say Nadal was a rank outsider would be an understatement. 

1980: Ice Borg v Johnny Mac 

Rivalling Nadal v Federer for the Greatest Wimbledon Final Award is Bjorn Borg’s unforgettable win over John McEnroe in the 1980 final.

The match itself lasted five sets, but the 18-16 fourth-set tiebreaker was where the real magic happened. 

McEnroe won before Borg put his foot down to win 8-6 in the fifth set to secure his 10th Grand Slam crown at just 24-years of age. This match is so famous the final was made into a movie in 2017 titled Borg v McEnroe.

1993: Novotna Breaks Down

There’s certainly no shame in losing to seven-time Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf, but that still didn’t stop Jana Novotna from showing her emotional side in the women’s 1993 final. 

Novotna had gained momentum after winning the second set 6-1, but the pressure got to her in the decider losing 4-6 to the defending champ. The loss was a tough watch for everyone, but a memorable moment followed when Novotna received the runner-up trophy from the Duchess of Kent and wept on her shoulder. 

This story does have a happy ending, however, as Novotna went on to win her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 1998 over Nathalia Tauziat. 

2002: Sampras Bows Out 

Pete Sampras retired a seven-time winner at Wimbledon and is largely considered, alongside Roger Federer, as the king of the All England Club. But unlike most heroes, Sampras left the court with his tail between his legs in 2002 after losing in five sets to unranked Swiss wildcard George Bastl in the second round. 

Bastl signed autographs after the match while Sampras sat on the bench and reflected. He then left the court with his head down before returning at the US Open to defeat Andre Agassi in the final. 

2002: C’mon Aussie

The 2002 Wimbledon tournament was memorable for so many reasons. The top 17 seeds all failed to reach the fourth round, which allowed Lleyton Hewitt a clear path to his second Grand Slam title. 

Hewitt had won the 2001 US Open and was the No. 1 seed ahead of Marat Safin and Andre Agassi. He defeated No. 28 seed David Nalbandian in straight sets becoming the first Aussie since Pat Cash in 1987 to win the Wimbledon title. 

1985: Becker Proves Age is Just a Number

A babyfaced Boris Becker arrived on the scene at the All England Club in 1985 at just 17 years of age. 

The German-born youngster quickly made his presence felt with four convincing wins to reach the finals before defeating Frenchmen Henri Leconte in four sets of the Quarterfinals. 

Becker found some trouble early in the Semi’s early against Switzerland’s Anders Jarryd losing the first set, but went on to win three straight to move on to the finals against American Kevin Curren. 

Becker won the title 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 to become Germany’s first Wimbledon singles winner, but also the youngest male Grand Slam singles champion. He repeated that performance by successfully defending his crown the following year defeating Ivan Lendl in the final. 

1974: The Bucharest Buffoon 

Romanian born Ilie Nastase was considered one of the world’s top players during the 1970s and even held the No. 1 ranking for 11 months.

Nastase won the French Open twice and the US Open in 1972, but one of his most famous moments came at Wimbledon in 1974 in his fourth-round match against American Dick Stockton. 

With rain coming down, Nastase played part of the match holding an umbrella in his left hand. He went on to lose the match in four sets. 

1968: Rod Laver 

The Open Era at Wimbledon began with Rod Laver’s straight-sets victory over Tony Roche in the final. He went on to defend his crown in four sets against John Newcombe the very next year before Newcombe continued to carry the flag for Australia in 1970 and 1971 with two stunning five-set victories. 

1987: Pat Cash Climbs the Box 

Pat Cash defeated Ivan Lendl in 1987 to end Australia’s 16-year Wimbledon drought, but what happened after the match was almost as memorable as his victory on the court. 

Cash christened a now long-running tradition by becoming the first winner to climb the Players Box to embrace his family. The mullet is also of the highest quality. 

2000: Venus, Meet Venus

Venus Williams’ accomplishments are often overshadowed by her younger sister, but at least she can point back to her Semi-Final win over Serena at Wimbledon in 2000 to win an argument or two.

Williams then went on to win her first Grand Slam title over defending champion Lindsay Davenport in straight sets, kick-starting two decades of dominance by the sisters. The celebration alone is worthy of a spot on this list, while the Venus Rosewater Dish being raised by a namesake was also pretty special.

1975: Arthur Ashe Makes History

First seed Jimmy Connors was considered almost untouchable in 1975 after winning the 1974 final in straight sets over Aussie Ken Rosewall. 

Fellow American Arthur Ashe was his next opponent in 1975, but the sixth seed was the heavy underdog after going through a gruelling five-set Semi-Final against Tony Roche only days earlier. 

Connors was favoured heavily to win in straight sets, but Ashe prevailed as the underdog in a highly memorable four-set victory. Ashe was the quiet type, while Connors was loud and full of confidence. With the win, Ashe became the first black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon. 

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