The 10 most head-swivelling Wimbledon matches in history
July 1st marks the start of Britain’s biggest annual sporting event – Wimbledon.
This year’s tournament will see the return of British favourite Andy Murray following hip surgery – but will he be able to secure his third Wimbledon title?
Before Murray and your other favourite players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal head out to centre court, check out our ace serving of the 10 most epic Wimbledon matches of all time.
1. King vs Evert – 1973
By 1973, Billie Jean King was an established player with three Wimbledon wins under her belt. However, there were high expectations for her opponent Chris Evert, who sailed through to the semi-final during her debut at the 1971 US Open aged just 16.
The significance of this 1973 Wimbledon Women’s final lies in the fact that a then 29-year-old King was able to extend her prime years by defeating an upcoming player who represented the future of women’s tennis.
2. Borg vs McEnroe – 1980
The rivalry between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe during the 1970s and 80s was often described as fire and ice, due to the contrast between Bjorn’s cool demeanour and McEnroe’s fiery temper.
The fourth set of the 1980 final produced what is considered some of the best tennis of all time, in a lengthy 34-point tie break which saw McEnroe save five match points and win 18-16, taking the match to a fifth set. Ultimately, it was Borg who won the fifth set 8-6, securing his fifth Wimbledon win – a record at the time.
3. Navratilova & Shriver vs Jordan & Smith – 1984
Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver were a dynamic duo who broke countless records during their careers and the Wimbledon Women’s Doubles final of 1984 saw them secure their fourth consecutive win.
What makes this achievement all the more special is that it happened during a 109-match winning streak for the pair from 1983 to 1985 – the longest doubles winning streak in the Open era.
4. Becker vs Curren – 1985
As an unseeded player, no one could have predicted that Boris Becker would make it to the Wimbledon final.
He was playing against the number 8 seed Kevin Curren and won the match in four sets, becoming the youngest male player to have won Wimbledon, aged just 17, as well as the first German and unseeded player to win.
5. Graf vs Navratilova – 1988
Excitement was high as Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova played their second consecutive Wimbledon final in 1988.
Navratilova took the first set and looked on course for another victory, but Graf overpowered her in the second and third sets, putting an end to Navratilova’s five consecutive years of Wimbledon wins.
6. Williams vs Davenport – 2005
The anticipation for the 2005 final between Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport was sky high. Although both were former Wimbledon champions, neither had won a grand slam for a number of years – so fans knew they’d fight tooth and nail to emerge victorious.
Davenport looked comfortable to win in two sets, with a 6-5 lead. However, as she served for the title, Williams’ long-delayed rally began, taking the match into a third set which Williams won 9-7, thus securing her third Wimbledon title instead.
7. Isner vs Mahut – 2010
The most memorable matches can happen at any stage in the tournament, as demonstrated by this first round match between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut, which lasted a whopping 11 hours and 5 minutes (played over three days) – the longest in Wimbledon history.
It was Isner who finally won the match, only to be knocked out of the competition in the following round.
8. Murray vs Djokovic – 2013
When Andy Murray made it to the Wimbledon final for the second year in a row, this time up against world number one Novak Djokovic, many were worried that he’d once again fall at final hurdle.
However, in a tense final game that saw Murray lose out on three match points, he defeated his opponent in straight sets, thus becoming the first British male to win Wimbledon in 77 years – an incredible moment for the whole nation.
9. Federer vs Cilic – 2017
All eyes were on Roger Federer during the 2017 championships. Having lifted the trophy seven times, another win would see him break the record for the number of Wimbledon wins.
In the final, he was up against the far less experienced Marin Cilic, who many predicted wouldn’t offer tough enough competition for the Federer Express.
True to form, Federer, won the match in straight sets, in just 1 hour and 41 minutes. For many, this match sealed his legacy as the greatest male tennis player of all time.
10. Hewett & Reid vs Gerard & Olson – 2018
The men’s wheelchair doubles final of 2018 was a nail-biting match which saw British dream team Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid play some terrific tennis as they flew through the first set winning six games in a row in just 25 minutes.
What followed was a thrilling second set that saw Olson tip out of his chair before regaining balance. Hewett and Reid won the set 6-4 – securing their third consecutive win.
If this year’s Wimbledon produces magic moments on par with any of our picks, we’re in for a treat – stay tuned from July 1st-14th to find out.