Tennis tantrums can provide as much high-quality drama as a tense, five set match. Poor sportsmanship and infantile meltdowns aren’t unique to tennis, but the level of etiquette and decorum associated with the game suggests it should be a more “gentlemanly” affair. Of course, anyone who saw Jimmy Connors curse like a sailor in the 1980s, or watches Andy Murray stalk the court like a spoiled eight year-old child having a hissy fit, knows that tennis and “gentlemanly” don’t always go hand-in-hand. Even 17-time Grand Slam singles champion Roger Federer, typically as calm and cool as a Swiss glacier, was fined $1,500 for dropping an S-bomb that the microphones picked up during the 2009 U.S. Open. From profanity-laced rants and flagrant displays of racquet abuse to aggressively arguing line calls and foot-faults, over the years behavior on the tennis court has been anything but well-behaved. Here are 10 of the largest fines in the history of tennis.
10. Marcos Baghdatis: $770
The $770 fine that Marcos Baghdatis was slapped with during his second-round match against Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2012 Australian Open was small, but his extended tantrum was spectacular. After losing the first two sets and going down a break in the third, Baghdatis sat in his chair during the change over and smashed his racquet on the court. However, the Cypriot wasn’t close to being finished. He then proceeded to take three more racquets out of his bag –two still in plastic wrap- and deliberately smash them one by one. While the outburst boosted Baghdatis to win the third set, Wawrinka eventually defeated him in five. The Grand Slam Committee has the power to fine a player $2,000 for each incident of racquet abuse. For some reason Baghdatis escaped Melbourne Park with a fine that was probably less than the cost to replace his four mangled racquets.
9. Dmitry Tursunov: $12,000
During Tursunov’s fourth-round defeat to Jarkko Nieminen in the 2006 Wimbledon Championship, the Russian slammed a tennis ball in the direction of Fergus Murphy, the chair umpire. Murphy believed the tennis player deliberately tried to hit him; naturally, Tursunov disagreed with the claim. However, Tursunov later called Murphy “an idiot” and in a somewhat unusual analogy compared him to Saddam Hussein. “Just because he’s been doing it for many years doesn’t mean he’s doing a good job. Saddam Hussein has been in Iraq for a while, but not too many people agree with his point of view.” Dmitry Tursunov received two fines for unsportsmanlike conduct totaling $12,000.
8. James Cerretani: $12,500
According to The Tennis Space, American doubles player James Cerretani accrued a steep fine during the 2010 French Open, briefly landing him on a list of the most badly behaved players in the men’s game. During the match, Cerretani received three separate fines for unsportsmanlike conduct. The largest infraction cost him $7,500, while the other two each had a price tag of $2,500.
7. Victor Hanescu: $15,000
In 2010, Victor Hanescu forfeited his third round Wimbledon match against Daniel Brands, but not before igniting a firestorm of controversy. Hanescu’s mood began to darken when he wasted four match points in the third set. After foot-faulting twice in the fifth, he swore loudly, and allegedly spit in the direction of the crowd. Hanescu would later suggest that he was provoked by the spectators, but despite the fact that four youths were arrested at the match there was no evidence that connected them to the spiting incident. After receiving two more foot faults in the fifth set, committing what many believe to have been deliberate double-faults, and going down 3-0, Hanescu went to the net, shook hands with Brands, and proceeded to leave the court. The Romanian was charged $7,500 for unsportsmanlike behavior and $7,500 for not giving it his “best effort.”
6. John McEnroe: $17,500
The record of John McEnroe’s altercations with tennis authorities is legendary. After breaking into the international circuit in 1977, John McEnroe earned his first major warning at the 1980 Wimbledon for his outbursts during a semifinal match against Jimmy Connors. The warning did little good. In 1981, McEnroe was fined $6,000 at Wimbledon for calling the chair umpire the “pits of the world.” However, Johnny Mac’s largest fine occurred during the 1987 U.S. Open. The tennis star was fined $17,500 for profanity and arguing calls during a match with Slobodan Zivojinovic. McEnroe was also suspended two months for his tirade. In the immortal words of John McEnroe: “Thanks for ruining another match for me. You going to try to set the Guinness Book of World Records for f!%*ing me?”
5. Boris Becker: $20,000
In 1995, Boris Becker, six-time Grand Slam singles champion and the current coach of World Number 1 Novak Djokovic, was fined $20,000 after a defeat at the Monte Carlo Open. The fine, however, wasn’t the result of a traditional tennis tantrum; there was no profanity-laced meltdown or racquet abuse. After his loss in the final, Becker insinuated that his opponent, Thomas Muster, had taken performance-enhancing drugs. During his semifinal match against Andrea Guadenzi, Muster complained of dehydration; however, he was somehow able to overcome being down two sets to win the match. Becker was surprised at Muster’s ability to quickly recuperate. At the time, Muster was in the midst of what would become a 35 game winning streak that culminated with a French Open title.
4. Fabio Fognini: $27,500
Fognini has a reputation for being volatile on the court, and during his first-round victory over Alex Kuznetsov at the 2014 Wimbledon Championship, the fiery Italian lived up to that reputation. Fognini was docked twice for unsportsmanlike conduct and once for obscenity; one of the unsportsmanlike penalties had a $20,000 price tag. Fognini threw his racquet, and then proceeded to get into a heated verbal argument with the chair umpire as well as another official at the tournament.
3. Jeff Tarango: $43,756
Nicknamed the tennis-menace, American Jeff Tarango was fined $15,500 for his conduct during a 1995 Wimbledon match, which is the highest fine ever imposed by the All England Club, breaking John McEnroe’s $10,000 punishment for verbal abuse in 1991. Tarango was fined $10,000 for verbally abusing chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh, $5,000 for leaving the court four games into the second set, and $500 for telling the crowd to “shut up.”
On top of the fines imposed by Wimbledon, the International Tennis Federation’s Grand Slam Committee suspended Tarango from two Grand Slam tournaments and fined him an additional $28,256, finding the tennis player “guilty of aggravated behavior and conduct contrary to the integrity of the game.” During the display of verbal abuse, Tarango called the chair umpire “the most corrupt official in the game.” After Tarango left the court in the second set, his French wife, Benedicte, slapped the umpire in the face.
2. David Nalbandian: $69,910
Ar the 2012 Queen’s Club final, David Nalbandian was disqualified and fined $12,560 for unsportsmanlike conduct when he kicked an advertising board that hit a line judge. Nalbandian was also stripped of his $57,350 prize money, making the total fine for his outburst $69,910. Nalbandian was facing Martin Cilic in the grass-court Wimbledon warm-up event. After losing his serve and falling behind 3-4 in the second set, Nalbandian missed a running forehand. The Argentine lost his cool and took his anger out on the advertising board. A piece of the board flew off and cut the line judge on the left shin. According to ESPN Tennis, Nalbandian issued a statement following the tournament final saying that he felt “ashamed and sorry for the kick that unintentionally hurt the line umpire.”
1. Serena Williams: $82,500
Serena Williams was fined a record $82,500 for her tirade at a line judge during a 2009 U.S. Open semifinal match against Kim Clijsters. While Serena’s foul language was bad enough –“I’ll take this ball and shove in down your fu%*ng throat” –the 17-time Grand Slam champion approached the line judge in what the tournament director, Jim Curley, called “a threatening manner.” There’s nothing serene about verbal abuse and racquet-brandishing. The drama began when Serena Williams, serving at 15-30, faulted on a first serve. On the second serve the line judge called a foot-fault, which made it a double fault and 15-40. That’s when Serena’s meltdown began. Because of the outburst, the chair umpire awarded a penalty point to Clijsters. Serena lost the match: 6-4, 7-5.
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