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Top 10 Shocking Wimbledon Moments

Written by Q.V. Hough At Wimbledon, tradition is sometimes overshadowed by the moment itself. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking Wimbledon Moments.   For this list, we’re focusing on unexpected, surprising and/or controversial events from the All-England Club’s most famous competition. Special thanks to our user Muppet_Face for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest 

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Top 10 Shocking Wimbledon Moments

At Wimbledon, tradition is sometimes overshadowed by the moment itself. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking Wimbledon Moments.
For this list, we’re focusing on unexpected, surprising and/or controversial events from the All-England Club’s most famous competition. 

#10: The Rock & Roll Knight Rises

When rain delays play on Centre Court, a British icon saves the day with a spontaneous performance. Just one year prior, Cliff Richard became the first rock star to be properly Knighted. So, with Sir Cliff in the Royal Box and rain delaying the action, Wimbledon officials wisely capitalized on his presence to keep the crowd engaged. For 20 minutes, Richard delivered a medley of fan favorites, including “Summer Holiday.” Meanwhile, numerous female tennis stars joined in on backing vocals, producing a surreal, yet unforgettable, moment for both attendees and viewers.

#9: Wildcard Winner

In the '90s, Goran Ivanišević lost the Men’s Singles Championship title match three times. In 2001, he only made the tourney thanks to a wildcard invite from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Ivanišević - the 125-ranked player in the world - didn’t disappoint. Although really, how could he? Unseeded, the 29-year-old Croatian made his way through the competition, culminating in a showdown with Australia’s Patrick Rafter. After splitting the first four sets, Ivanišević emerged victorious, shocking the tennis world and becoming the first wildcard player to raise the silver cup.

#8: The Future King Speaks… with His Racquet

It’s not often that you’ll see Royalty literally sweat in public. But in 1926, the Duke of York, Prince Albert – later King George VI – tied up his trainers for a public sporting event. This was no promotional appearance, mind you. The monarch-to-be competed in the doubles competition with his friend and mentor, Louis Greig, making him the only royal figure to officially play at Wimbledon. George would establish his legacy elsewhere, but on this particular day, he was a 29-year-old gent that made an unforgettable statement through actions alone, even if he and Greig did lose three consecutive sets.

#7: Baby-Faced Boris

 The world’s best tennis players begin training at a young age so, it’s not uncommon for teenagers to quickly reach the professional level. In 1985, Boris Becker began Wimbledon play as an unseeded 17-year-old – although unseeded, the German had momentum, as he’d just won the World Young Master’s championship two weeks prior. That summer at Wimbledon, Becker truly announced his arrival, as he trounced the competition and defeated Kevin Curren in the finals. Becker thus became the youngest male player to win the Men’s Grand Slam Singles Championship, and he won again back-to-back winner the following year.

#6: The 11-Hour Match

On the second day of summer at Wimbledon, the United States’ John Isner began first round play against France’s Nicolas Mahut. After nearly three hours, everyone called it a day, and the fifth and final round would begin the following afternoon. But the match took a shocking turn, with neither athlete giving in. Alas, Mother Nature once again delayed competition, setting the stage for a Thursday finale, with the match already being the longest ever documented at Wimbledon on the previous day. On Thursday, Isner and Mahut impressed viewers with their endurance and disposition, with the American winning the deciding final set. The event inspired a 2015 mockumentary entitled “7 Days in Hell,” which spoofs this surprising Wimbledon moment.

#5: Wardrobe Malfunction

Wimbledon has always been known for its strict dress code. In fact, even their official headband breaks their own rules. It’s also been reported that female players were “forced to play braless” because… well, there’s a code. Even so, times were different in 1979, and 18-year old Linda Siegel received plenty of buzz for her match against Billie Jean King. But, it wasn’t because of her immaculate play, as she got bounced after two sets, 6-1, 6-3. Siegel made headlines because of her revealing top, which stunned spectators and made photographers work a little harder to capture all the … excitement.

#4: The Bucharest Buffoon

During his prime, the Romanian Ilie Năstase was regarded as the best player in the world. Known as the “Bucharest Buffoon,” it was a persona that Năstase played into during a 1974 Wimbledon match against Dick Stockton. When rain began sprinkling down, Ilie briefly played while holding an umbrella, a technique that seems more suitable for a celebrity match at Wimbledon. But Năstase was no joke on the court, as he was the #1 seed and would soon become the #1 player in the world. Though he did lose on this particular day, Năstase did further establish his legacy, as well as his quirky, oddball legend.

#3: Naughty Girl with a Wild Streak

 During a championship match between Richard Krajicek and MaliVai Washington, all eyes were on the Centre Court action. On the ground, however, was a nude 23-year-old catering employee named Melissa Johnson, who swiftly changed the game-faces of both competitors. Commentator John McEnroe requested a “replay from all angles,” while the crowd watched in amusement as Johnson – wearing only a non-supportive apron - pranced around. The Duke of Kent got more than a laugh, especially when Johnson raised her pinny in curtsy towards the Royal Box, while the streaker herself later stated that she’s a “naughty girl” with a “wild streak”.

#2: Lightning Hits Centre Court

Boris Becker ended the 1985 competition with a bang, and that's exactly how Wimbledon began that year, too - with a lightning bolt hitting a brand new, ₤4-million building. At first, no one knew for sure what had transpired, but everyone soon learned that lightning had stuck the press centre – making this literally the most shocking thing to happen at Wimbledon. As a result, six chunks of falling masonry nearly made the first Monday a day to never forget. No one was hurt, fortunately, and the lightning ultimately became old news by the finals.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Serena Williams’ Mystery Illness


Maria Sharapova’s Grunting


A Wash Out Forces ‘Middle Sunday’ Game Play


#1: Classic McEnroe

Known for his on-court outbursts, John McEnroe delivered his most famous tantrum during a first round match against Tom Gullikson. For a moment, he appears genuinely confused, but then the banter with umpire Ted James becomes heated, leading to the most famous of McEnroe catchphrases. The meltdown cost the American tennis star $1500, but the shocking moment only made him more relevant within pop culture. Many players lose their cool at Wimbledon, but none quite like John McEnroe.

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