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08.31.10

Top Eleven Tennis Tantrums

It’s U.S. Open time again, and with it not only high-quality tennis but high-quality drama. From Serena Williams’ foot fault tirade to Marat Safin’s poor racket, WATCH VIDEO of the best meltdowns.

U.S. Open Fan Captures Wild Audience Fight On Video

Federer vs. Nadal. Sampras vs. Agassi. Borg vs. McEnroe. Twenty-something vs. older couple? Watch the fight that broke out in the stands of a second round match at Arthur Ashe Stadium causing play to stop momentarily as the players on court watched the bedlam—in this case, swearing, slapping, and pushing—unfold.

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Federer Drops the S-Bomb

He may have an impeccable backhand and the most Grand Slams of all time, but Roger Federer was not above throwing a tantrum at a changeover at the 2009 final. Luckily for us, CBS microphones picked up the entire exchange. Note to chair umpires: When Federer’s dominance starts to fade midway through a major match and he voices his annoyance, do not show him “the hand” and tell him he should be quiet. In the end it was Federer’s confession that he “didn’t give a shit” that came with a $1,500 fine and U.S. Open infamy.

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She Didn’t Say Anything About Murder

All hell broke loose when Serena Williams was called for a foot fault in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals. After a profanity-laced tirade against the lineswoman, Williams was penalized a point and ended up losing the match. You know it’s a certifiable tennis outburst when a player says, “I never said I would kill you.” We beg to differ—shoving a tennis ball down a woman’s throat may cause death.

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Umpires Can Be an Abortion

The highlight of the 1991 U.S. Open tournament was 39-year-old Jimmy Connors’ incredible run to the semifinals. We remember his age because of this famous tirade, in which he refers to playing his “butt off.” Connors should be applauded for substituting less harmful words in place of curses. Not only did Connors repeatedly point at the umpire and tell him to get out of the chair (a demand that proved unsuccessful), but he famously nicknamed his enemy “an abortion.”

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The Racket Abuser

Judging by the number of times Marat Safin strikes the air or court with his racket, you’d think he likes it more than hitting the ball. Between his temper tantrums and racket abuse, he puts on quite a show for fans. As of 2005, Safin estimated he had broken more than 300 rackets in emotional outbursts.

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Tennis as Forum for Self-Flagellation

Reviewing a performance to fix mistakes helps many players improve. Hitting yourself in the head with your tennis racket when you miss a shot—perhaps not such a winning strategy. Mikhail Youzhny’s racket to head bashing method surfaced after the Russian lost a point to Nicolas Almagro in the 2008 Miami Masters. However, drawing blood seemed to do the trick for the head basher: Youzhny came back to win the match.

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How to Lose Your Coach

If you’re going to curse out your own coach, you’d better be a winner. This was not the case for Scottish tennis player Andy Murray at the 2007 Australian Open. Calling his American coach Brad Gilbert a “f*cking tw*t” failed to help Murray bring home the bacon, and the two parted ways not long after.

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McEnroe Racks Up Some Fines

Winning seven Grand Slam singles titles, nine men’s doubles titles, and one mixed doubles title could make a player a great candidate for a sports role model. Unfortunately, being fined more than $12 million for misconduct including bad behavior and swearing probably keeps John McEnroe out of the running. From racket throwing to cursing out umpires, McEnroe kept it a little too real on the court for endorsements.

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Best Title Ever

Tim Henman may have the greatest title in all of professional tennis history: the first player to be kicked out of the Wimbledon Open Championship. It’s quite a feat— racket breaking and swearing aren’t enough. Henman was more creative, attempting to smash a hole in the head of a Wimbledon staff member in 1995.

The Big Guy in the Sky

Robert Seguso took on the biggest referee of them all after messing up an easy midcourt shot during the 1991 Davis Cup. Seguso dared to take the Lord’s name in vain on the tennis court and received a roaring thunderstorm in return. Looking up to the sky and screaming “God!” the doubles player was met with a rumble from the heavens that seemed to shake him a bit.

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Pascal Rondeau / Getty Images, Pascal Rondeau

Don’t Mess with the Ump

Swearing at an umpire because of fan interference is a quick way not to become a tennis favorite. At the 2003 Wimbledon tournament, Greg Rusedski cursed up a storm after umpire Lars Gaff refused to let him replay a point he lost because of fan interference under the “Hindrance Rule.” Rusedski lost the match to Andy Roddick and was later fined.

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Clive Brunskill / Getty Images, Clive Brunskill