Serena Williams unloads on tournament referee Brian Earley at last week's US Open.
Serena Williams unloads on tournament referee Brian Earley at last week's US Open.

10 meltdowns: When tennis stars go rogue

Following the furore over Serena Williams' huge meltdown in the US Open, we take a look at the 10 best (or worst) dummy spits in tennis history.





1. John McEnroe

The four most famous words in tennis 'You cannot be serious' were first uttered by the master of meltdowns, John McEnroe, in 1981 in a match at Wimbledon against fellow American Tom Gullikson. McEnroe disputed a line call following a serve and when he didn't get his way he unleashed on umpire Edward James. The 22-year-old McEnroe was fined US$1500 for his outburst.


2. Jeff Tarango

Tarango was not far behind McEnroe when it came to disputing umpiring decisions. His most famous outburst came at Wimbledon in 1995 when what he thought was an ace was called out. The American argued the call, then told the crowd to shut up when they heckled him. After being given a code violation for an 'audible obscenity' by umpire Bruno Rebeuh of France, Tarango refused to play on even when tournament referee arrived courtside. Tarango finally walked off but not before calling Rebeuh 'the most corrupt official in the game'. Tarango was fined approximately $20,000.


3. Nick Kyrgios

Kyrgios is the current bad boy of tennis and one of his many meltdowns in a short career was at the Australian Open in 2016. The Australian repeatedly complained to the chair umpire James Keothavong that he was being distracted by music coming from somewhere in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena. "Just answer the question. Is music allowed to be played while we are playing? Am I hearing things? It's a circus," Kyrgios blasted. After the umpire asked Kyrgios if he wanted to stop playing, he went on to lose to Tomas Berdych in four sets.


4. Serena Williams

Williams is no stranger to tantrums and another came in 2009 - again at the US Open. In her semi-final against Kim Clijsters, Williams was called for a foot fault which gave her opponent match point. The American gestured with her racquet towards the lineswoman, resulting in a point penalty and loss of the match. It was never confirmed what Williams had said to the lineswoman, but the on-court microphones picked up her saying to the official in an argument: "I never said I would kill you, are you serious?"


5. Mikhael Youzhny

In a game against Nicolas Almagro in Miami in 2013, Mikhael Youzhny hit a backhand shot into the net after a long rally and punished himself with a beating. He hit himself on the head with his racquet three times, before blood trickled down his face.


6. Viktor Troicki

Troicki took offence to a call at Wimbledon in 2016. Picking up the ball after the call he ran to the official claiming it had a white mark on it from hitting the line. But after getting short shrift he began a tirade of abuse. The Serbian labelled the umpire the, "Worst umpire ever in the world" and just one point later after losing the match, let loose again on the match official.


7. Grigor Dimitrov

The man they call Baby Fed because of the similarities to Roger Federer in his game, is also prone to a few outbursts. This one came in the final in Istanbul in 2016. The Bulgarian smashed up three of his racquets on his way to defeat.


8. Marcos Baghdatis (again)

Australian Open fans will remember Marcos Baghdatis for his run to the final in 2006. But they will also a recall Baghdatis' on-court show in 2006 when he went two sets down against Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka. The Cypriot sat down in his chair before taking his frustration out by systematically smashing four of his racquets at the Australian Open in 2012.


9. David Nalbandian 

He might not have meant to, but Argengtine David Nalbandian managed to injure a linesman in the final of the Queen's Club tournament in London in 2012. After missing a forehand, Nalbandian kicked out at an advertising board behind which the official was sitting. The advertising board broke, injuring the linesman who was left with a bloodied leg. His errant kick also resulted in Nalbanadian being disqualified from the final.


10. Andrea Petkovic

The German  threw one of the biggest tantrums after line-call went against her at the WTA Dubai Duty Free Championship in 2015. She allowed a shot from Zarina Diyas to bounce, thinking it would be called out. The call never came and after pleading with the linesman, chair umpire and even the crowd, she went down on her hands and knees and smacked the ground in frustration. Unsurprisingly she went on to lose the match in straight sets.