The biggest tennis scandals in history
As the Australian Open gets into full swing, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest tennis scandals in recent tennis history.
Serena Williams’ outburst overshadows Osaka’s win
Serena Williams made headlines for all the wrong reasons at the 2018 US Open when she racked up penalties for allegedly calling an umpire a “liar” and a “thief” and breaking her racket during her final loss to Japanese star Naomi Osaka. She was later fined $17,000. As a result, several players and former players supported Williams, arguing that male players tend to receive lighter punishments for similar behavior.
Maria Sharapova has tested positive
Five-time major winner Maria Sharapova has been banned from professional tennis for 15 months after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium during the 2016 Australian Open. She claimed she was taking the drug, which is used to treat insufficient blood flow caused by certain heart conditions, “solely for medical reasons”, but the International Tennis Federation tribunal hearing her case was not convinced.
Gasquet’s cocaine kiss
French player Richard Gasquet would be out of the professional game for a long time in 2009. Gasquet was banned a year after testing positive for cocaine in March of that year. However, a few months later, an International Tennis Federation tribunal overturned the ban after Gasquet claimed he only had cocaine in his system because he kissed a woman who had taken the drug in a nightclub.
Andre Agassi’s crystal meth
Multiple major winner Andre Agassi rocked the tennis world when he admitted to knowingly using meth in 1997 in his 2009 autobiography, The Open. He failed a drug test but escaped a ban at the time by telling authorities. that he unknowingly drank drug-laced soda. After the release of Open, Agassi told People magazine that he was “excited to tell the whole story”.
Seles took a stab at court
In April 1993, then-world No. 1 Monica Seles, then 19, was playing Bulgaria’s Magdalena Maleeva at a minor German tournament when she sat down briefly while switching sides and felt excruciating pain in her back. She turned to see a spectator clutching a knife. Others in the crowd restrained the man before Seles could stab a second time, and she escaped serious physical injury but was sidelined for over two years, struggling with PTSD. Her attacker only received a suspended sentence and probation.
Daniel Koellerer banned from betting
In May 2011, Austrian player Daniel Koellerer was given a life sentence for match-fixing, he was the first player to receive such a sentence. Among other crimes, Koellerer admitted using his own personal website to facilitate betting on matches. Before Wimbledon that year, tournament organizers were given a “watch list” of suspected corruption and denied the tournament accreditation.
Sources have suggested that corruption concerns raised by Russian betting syndicates go back several years,” wrote The Telegraph’s Robert Mendick at the time.
Boris Becker’s child
After losing a fourth-round match at Wimbledon in 1999, six-time major winner Boris Becker had a two-hour argument with his pregnant wife and went to a local Japanese restaurant for a drink, according to his 2003 autobiography. While there, Becker writes, he made love to a waitress in a broom closet (or stairwell). Eight months later, he learned that he had fathered a child. In 2003, Becker told The Guardian that he visits his daughter regularly and wants to “learn to love” her.
The fix is in
In January 2016, he published a major exposé on match-fixing in elite tennis, involving 16 of the top 50 players and the Russian and Italian gaming syndicates. The Tennis Integration Unit, the official body that investigates match-fixing in tennis, claimed it was aware of 28 players involved in match-fixing but took no action because the recently introduced integrity code “could not be retroactively enforced”. Players were reportedly offered more than $50,000 for the fix.
“You can’t be serious!”
John McEnroe, already nicknamed “Superbrothers” by the British media, famously shouted “You can’t be serious! at umpire Edward James after a controversial call during his first-round match at Wimbledon in 1981, later smashing his racket and calling James an “incompetent fool”. When McEnroe won the tournament, the All England Club broke the precedent by not granting him honorary membership. In response, McEnroe boycotted the Champions’ Dinner in favor of partying with rock group The Pretenders McEnroe titled his 2002 memoir You Cannot Be Serious.
Martina Hingis tests positive for cocaine
Martina Hingis was once one of tennis’ brightest stars; at the 1997 Australian Open, the Swiss player of Czech origin became the youngest Grand Slam champion in more than a century. She left in 2003 due to injuries and returned briefly two years later before leaving Single for good in 2007. She revealed shortly after that she had tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon, although she denied taking the drug, saying: “The only performance enhancement is the love of the game.” Martina Hingis last returned as a doubles player, winning at the 2016 Olympics with the Timea Bacsinszky silver medal.
Still in court
Nineteen-time major winner Rafael Nadal is used to winning challenging battles on the court, but in 2017 he celebrated on the court. He was awarded almost US$12,000 in damages after a French court found former French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot had defamed the star when she accused him of doping during a 2016 TV appearance. Year-old test results leaked by hackers in 2016, which Nadal confirmed as authentic, show no wrongdoing on his part.
“Thanasi punched your girlfriend”
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is no stranger to controversy – The Sporting News devoted an entire online retrospective to his weirder moments – but he angered many in the tennis world when he staged a personal drama at the 2015 Rogers Cup in Montreal when he told rival Stan Wawrinka that Australian player Thanasi Kokkinakis ” bumped into [his] girlfriend”. He was fined $35,000 and suspended.
In April 2019, the US college sports world was rocked by an admissions cheating scandal; several coaches, including University of Texas tennis coach Michael Centre (pictured with an unidentified woman), have pleaded guilty to accepting bribes worth tens of thousands of dollars to identify applicants as athletes, allowing them to be more easily admitted to the nation’s top universities. . In some cases, applicants never played the sport that helped them gain admission.
Faux pas or super suit?
One hundred years ago, French star Suzanne Lenglen “raised eyebrows” when she took to the court in a short-sleeved, calf-length dress without a petticoat, proving that women’s clothing has been scrutinized and analyzed for as long as elite tennis has existed. . After Serena Williams competed in a full-length black suit at the 2018 French Open, tournament director Bernard Giudicelli banned the outfit, saying Williams “went too far”. Williams, who suffered from blood clots in her legs, says she chose the clothes to help her circulation. After the ban, the catsuit got its own Nike advertising campaign.
Gussie Moran Short Shorts
American star Gertrude “Gorgeous Gussie” Moran was the first tennis player to wear shorts on the court at Wimbledon in 1949, and predictably, her outfit caused quite a stir among tennis traditionalists. She was accused of bringing “vulgarity and sin” into tennis. According to her obituary in The Independent, Moran, who died in 2013, spent the rest of her life regretting the “fuss” the outfit caused.
Wimbledon, the oldest of the four major tournaments, has no shortage of scandalous and unexpected moments on the court. Just before the men’s final in 1996, finalists Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands and MaliVai Washington of the United States were posing for a pre-match photo when a naked woman, “except for her tiny forehead, which she flipped upside down,” came running across the court. she was passing players,” reports The Guardian. Krajicek won in two sets.
Arrest for match-fixing
Before the 2019 Australian Open, Spanish police announced that they had arrested 28 professional tennis players, including one who participated in the 2018 US Open. The players had rigged some matches and “spoiled the results after taking bribes from the Armenian ring that was dismantled in October.” the same year. Luxury cars, credit cards, shotguns, and €167,000 ($191,000) in cash were seized during the Spanish raid.
A long investigation clears Davydenko
Russian player Nikolay Davydenko was cleared of match-fixing in 2008 after an investigation that lasted almost a year. Davydenko retired injured in the third set 6-2, 3-6, 1-2 against Argentina’s Martin Vassall Arguello in the second round of a minor tournament in Poland. On the surface, the match was nothing out of the ordinary – Davydenko was known to have a leg injury – but it attracted almost US$7 million in bets on the online sports betting portal Betfair. The bets were later canceled.