Tennis Prose



Examples of incidents of violence in pro tennis


With the Kyrgios-Wawrinka near brawl in Montreal the talk of tennis today, I decided to collect memories and examples of violence and near violence in the sport of tennis…

Perhaps the most memorable incident in pro tennis was when Roger Taylor punched out Bob Hewitt in the locker room, an overflow from flared tempers after a doubles match they played.

But there are more…

Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic had a physical confrontation after their 2008 US Open quarterfinal match, inside the locker room.

John Newcombe crossed the net and physically touched and threatened John McEnroe after the young American hit his doubles partner Fred Stolle with a close range slam at the net.

A former top hundred ATP player told me earlier today on Facebook the worst behavior he ever saw on a tennis court in his career was a player slapping a ballboy.

Two Austrians had a verbal conflict which escalated to physical when Stefan Koubek choked Daniel Koellerer at a pro tennis match five years ago.

Venus Williams and Irina Spirlea apparently intentionally bumped into each other at the net during a changeover at their infamous US Open match.

Serena Williams threatened to kill a lineswoman who called a footfault on match point at the US Open during a thrilling battle with Kim Clijsters.

Monica Seles was stabbed in the back with a knife by a maniacal Steffi Graf fan in Hamburg, Germany.

I was told by an insider Guillermo Vilas challenged Jimmy Connors to a fight but Jimbo declined the offer.

I was told Scott Davis was enraged by John McEnroe’s behavior during a US Open doubles match on the grandstand and waited off court in the tunnel to fight his antagonist, but no blows were exchanged.

I was told Jim Courier and Michael Chang’s brother Carl almost came to blows in the locker room after a contentious US Open night match.

Mild-mannered Tim Henman was disqualified from Wimbledon early in his career for hitting a ball kid with a ball.

Even Nick Kyrgios was a victim of an very slight minor assault at Roland Garros on court. I met Nick’s brother Kris at the US Open last year and he told me about Nick’s match versus Radek Stepanek. Nick was winning two sets to love and in the third set Stepanek intentionally bumped young Kyrgios during the changeover intending to try to intimidate the teenager. But Nick held it together and closed out the match in straight sets. Also, Nick didn’t whine or complain about the incident, he took care of business like a man.

I’m sure I missed a few, feel free to add more in the comments…

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  • S · August 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    You forgot Ivo and Paire and you were the one that wrote about it!

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    haha…nice recollection scoop..

    how about…

    chela spitting at hewitt..

    tarango’s wife slapping an umpire after he defaulted at wimby..

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    what happend with ivo and paire ?

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    also heard about a bryan bros vs. phillippoussis in a locker room yell-off..

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    S, but Paire and Ivo did not come to physical blows, they were just in each other’s faces. But thanks for adding it, that one came very close to escalating, very close )

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    also heard about nastase spitting at someone while grabbing his own crotch and saying “suck my d**k”…haha

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Moskova2, how could I forget Tarango’s wife bipping the umpire Bruno Rebeauh? Good call. Also, Justin Gimelstob was spat at but not on by a former Czech player on grandstand Michael Tabara many years ago. Don’t think that constitutes direct violence though.

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    haha….paire’s a sissy IMO

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    What happened with Ivo and Paire was Paire was insulting Ivo the whole match to his box in French and he didn’t know that Ivo understands French. Saying detrimental things about Ivo’s game and playing style. After Ivo won a tough marathon three setter in Washington on the far grandstand last summer, they had words at the handshake, and the verbal confrontation continued off the court as they both walked back to the locker room which was on the other side of the stadium. I witnessed this incident and got translations from a Croatian journo named Anna.

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    spitting is debatable…and very ubiquitous….so easy to do by anyone at anytime…haha…

    this one’s not that major but mentionable….i saw paradorn spit on the court near some fans that were cheering for hrbaty alttle too enthusiastically at USO..

    honorable (or rather dishonorable mention)….hanescu spat at some fans because they called him a “gypsy” at wimby….haha

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Another example which just popped in my mind was a Courier vs Sampras Miami day match in the 90s. I watched this match televised on ESPN, Courier had just lost a tiebreak in the first and was not happy with some of the line calls on Pete’s serves by the ump. So in the first game of the second set, Pete was up 40-love and Jim hit a forehand return of serve right at the chair umpire, hitting him on the knee. Jim held up his hand and apologized as he walked to his chair, but the manner of his apology did not seem overly sincere or concerned for the umpire 😉

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    good scoops, scoop..

  • Moskova Moskova · August 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    just remembered….hewitt vs coria….a very heated match but didnt come to blows..

    coria was gesturing and grabbing his own crotch to against hewitt and hewiit was gesturing and making a “hand gun” with his hand and aiming and shooting coria…haha

  • Rob Campbell · August 13, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    I submitted a comment to your previous article ( i am avid follower of your site and thing you guys are great) but comments you write like ‘like a man’ only encourage the kygrios style sexist nonesense.

  • Dan Markowitz · August 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    What about Venus Williams and Irina Spirlina when she collided with Venus on a changeover. Llodra went after a fan once in a doubles match at the Open.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Hewitt vs Coria Davis Cup ahhhh, one of the best matches I ever saw, loved the fireworks in that one, Coria got uppity and belligerent and made the mistake of igniting the fire of Hewitt who just absolutely blazed through him. Classic match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 13, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you for supporting the site Rob, I really don’t think what Nick did was that blatantly wrong, he muttered the comment under his breath and it barely got picked up by the microphones. It was like a form of venting, he did show consideration actually by mumbling it softly, it’s not like he jumped on the umpire and yelled in the microphone “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend!” Nick did show some consideration. I think the whole thing is being blown way out of proportion. I don’t think the whole situation portrays Vekic in a negative light at all, even if she broke up the marriage of Stan and his wife, most of the blame should be on Stan for initiating the relationship. Broken marriages are the norm in the culture we live in today, divorce rates are ridiculously high. This is just a small pimple on the overall beauty of the sport, it will soon pass and the sport will survive, as will all the players in this drama. I can empathize with each player in this triangle, Nick got hot in the heat of the battle after Stan tried to hit him in the head. Stan was fired up by how intense Nick was, the intensity escalated. And Vekic did what most young women would do when pursued by a superstar athlete, she was charmed by his advances. People are human and don’t always do the right thing. Time to move on.

  • Dan Markowitz · August 13, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Rob, and for posting for the first time on the site. I do take exception with the comment, “like a man, too,” but Scoop is a macho guy and you’ve got to give him his macho sayings.

    Look, I’m stunned to hear Justin Gimelstob, who’s part of the ATP hierarchy, saying that there’s a chance Kyrgios will be suspended for three months. What Kyrgios said was in bad taste, but he said Wawa was getting “lippy” with him and, here’s another cliche for you, boys will be boys.

    I think it’d be ridiculous if the ATP suspended Kyrgios for what he said. Maybe Vekic and Kokky and Wawa are angry at Nick, but what he said is probably de rigueur in a sport like basketball where trash talking occurs all the time. Let’s not let tennis seem like a wussy sport by the ATP overreacting to this comment.

    Here’s a poll on, was anyone offended by what Kyrgios said to Wawa?

  • Dan Markowitz · August 13, 2015 at 11:27 pm


    What do you have to say about your boy, Sock, getting shellacked by Djoko 1 and 2. The young gun is just not showing he’s ready for prime time.

    Is Nadal going to rally against Nishy or will he be further exposed?

  • Rob Campbell · August 14, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I saw The Gim talking about the 3 months thing as well – ridiculous. Have you seen/read Rafa’s comments about it. The guy talks sense.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 14, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Rob, thanks for sharing the Rafa video. Good words by Nadal, he’s right, Nick was wrong, so was Stan, so was Donna. These things happen in tennis, always have always will, we can all eventually move on and forgive Nick and Stan for creating this ugly episode, right?

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 14, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Christos Kyrgios said that Wawrinka assaulted Nick in the locker room after the match, put his hands on him. Wow.

  • Harold · August 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Are you surprised? You think a guy could say something like that, and not expect to be confronted. You say crap like that, you better be ready to back it up. Its not the NBA,where they talk all kinds of crap, but knowing they would be suspended, they do what I call the NBA Dance, they talk behind 3 of their teammates, knowing no one is throwing punches, and they think they are tough guys.

  • Moskova Moskova · August 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

    unfortunately or fortunately – we’ll never see the locker-room coverage a la WWE, etc…..can you imagine the drama ?? certainly adds tremendous entertainment value to tennis…..but we’ll never see that happening haha

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 14, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Breaking news: Christos Kyrgios, older brother of Nick, revealed in an interview with Aussie TV show, that Wawrinka put his hands on Nick in the locker room – that constitutes assault.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 14, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    More examples of violence in tennis: The parents who physically assault or abuse kids for losing matches or playing poorly in juniors. Probably too many to count.

  • S · August 15, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I’d still like to know more about Ivo and Paire “almost” coming to blows. Did one of them back down or did they have to be pulled away from each other?

  • Harold · August 15, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Paire was looking for a step ladder to swing at Dr. Ivo, but he couldnt find one, so it cooled down.(jk)

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Actually, Harold, Paire is a very tall guy himself, he towers, he’s listed as 6-5, Ivo is listed at 6-11.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 15, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    S; here is the article link I wrote about the Paire-Ivo war of words

  • S · August 15, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    I remember, Scoop, but thanks for the repost. I’m kinda surprised that Ivo seemed to be the instigator after the match- not that Paire didn’t deserve it.



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