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The Greatest Moments in Wimbledon History

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 14 June 2017

While there are four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, one in particular stands above the rest. Celebrating its 140th birthday in 2017, here are some of the most memorable moments from Wimbledon’s iconic courts.

Golden Slam

Of the seven Wimbledon singles titles Steffi Graf won, it’s actually the first that stands out. As an 18-year-old she beat defending champion Martina Navratilova, as part of her ‘Golden Slam’ – winning all four majors, and then to top it off, an Olympic gold, in the same year.

Marathon match

The match that finished 11 hours and five minutes after it started. John Isner versus Nicolas Mahut is the longest match Wimbledon has ever seen. In 2010, the American Isner, finally won the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68. Seventy. Sixty-eight. Ridiculous.

Arthur Ashe

Jimmy Connors was the brash, aggressive defending champion, but in 1975, Arthur Ashe defied the odds and became the first black man to win a Wimbledon singles title. Later that year Ashe was world No. 1 and today the US Open has a show court named after him.

Williams v Davenport

Venus Williams’ third Wimbledon singles title came in 2005, after a four-year drought of Grand Slam titles. The match against fellow American Lindsay Davenport became the longest ladies’ final of all time, with Williams triumphing 9-7 in the final set.

1990 for singles title No. 9

Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, with half of them coming in south west London. Of those nine, the last, in 1990, ensured she beat the existing record she shared with Helen Wills Moody. The legend retired from singles competition after this historic win.

Wildcard winner

A three-time runner up, Goran Ivanisevic had to be awarded a wild card to allow him to qualify for the tournament proper in 2001. Incredibly, he went all the way and became the first in Wimbledon history to win a title on a wild card.

Changing of the guard

The end of one era and the beginning of another, better than the last. In 2001, seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras went out to an up-and-coming Roger Federer. The Swiss went on to match Sampras’ seven titles, while the American would play one more Wimbledon, in 2002, losing to No 145 ranked George Bastl in the second round.

McEnroe losing it

Maybe the most iconic moment in Wimbledon history? Certainly one of the most entertaining, and a passage of time that permanently nailed down John McEnroe’s caricature image that went hand-in-hand with his exceptional tennis ability.

McEnroe winning it, but then losing it

The 1980 tiebreak between McEnroe and Bjorn Borg was, ludicrously, 22 minutes long. McEnroe eventually won 18–16, with his seventh set point of the tiebreak, but went on to lose the match, going down 8–6 in the fifth and final set.

Nadal v Federer II

The 2007 final between arguably the two greatest players of all time was, at the time, the best tennis match I’d ever seen, with the Swiss finally claiming his fifth title. Then, one year later, they played out an even greater battle, with Rafael Nadal exacting revenge. An astonishing piece of sport.