Classic Wimbledon Rivalries

July 2, 2016 2:55 pm

Cameron Conaway quotes “Fights begin and end with handshakes”.

At Wimbledon, it is often antithetical. Friendships boom at the conclusion of matches, giving rise to a highly competitive alliance. This, undoubtedly, improves the quality of a match and sets apart a tournament as great as a Grand Slam Wimbledon is. It is often the question of a fight in the match that determines, to an extent, the class of a contention, and in the competitive world of Tennis, nothing compares to Wimbledon.

The following have been compiled, keeping in mind the bracket of vigour that defines Wimbledon.

1. Björn Borg-John McEnroe

The fundamentals of international Tennis that blossomed in the peak of 1980s. 1980 was considered the pinnacle year in the world of Tennis when a 21-year old McEnroe challenged the then world No. 1, Björn Borg in the finals of the most prestigious Tennis Grand Slam. The match, often considered the best match played in Tennis, gave a re-birth to international Tennis, in a time when it was essentially needed. Borg-McEnroe confrontation lasted 4 years, starting from Wimbledon 1980, to Suntoru Cup 1983. They engaged regularly- nearly 14 times- with each player winning the exact same number of times. The rivalry identified how varied and contrasting their styles were. While Borg was known for his outlandish looks, mysterious persona, McEnroe was a love-hate figure. Ice-Fire: A rivalry rich by its short period, but immortalized to its own legacy.

2. Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal 

A rivalry that arguably contains the 2 greatest players of all time, served as a depiction of a gladiator-level encounters in the modern era. An open indication of dominance that these players have had on Tennis are the 20 finals they’ve played together, of the total 34 matches they’ve played. It’s no wonder that people stand for a class delivered by Roger Federer, the elegance only few players in history have. The 2008 Wimbledon Finals’ was considered a re-enactment of the 1980 Final, a public opinion only likened by McEnroe and Borg. At Wimbledon, the 17-time champion leads 2-1 against the 14-time champion, as opposed to a 11-23 win-loss ratio. Their combined performances at the Grand Slams have denied each other Calendar Year Grand Slams, but  has lead to an evolution for the world of Tennis.

3. Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi          

What happens when a player with phenomenal serve clashes with someone known for their phenomenal eye-hand coordination? A Wimbledon 1993 is born.

Agassi, the defending champion was stunned by a young rebel known for his reserved gargantuan-ism. Pete’s rise, following his win in ’93, varied inversely to Andre’s fall. While both were arch-rivals, meeting 34 times, Sampras always held the edge, winning 20 matches in total. The 2001 US Open win was, perhaps fittingly, Sampras’ last conquer over Andre Agassi.

4. Steffi Graf-Martina Navratilova 

Called the ‘Ice-Fire’ rivalry of Women’s Tennis, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova are considered the greatest of all legends, including themselves. While Steffi was the first women to win all 4 Grand Slams and an Olympic Gold Medal, Martina holds the record for most singles titles and doubles titles. A 9 time Wimbledon champion, Martina Navratilova, held a 1-2 win record over Steffi, who won The Championships 7 times.  The 1988 Wimbledon Finals, a re-match of the 1987 final, was Steffi’s first Wimbledon title, defeating the 6-time defending champion. On grass court, they’ve met thrice with Steffi winning twice at the finals and Martina winning once. Their record of 9-9 each wins is similar to that of Borg-McEnroe’s record, which naturally puts them under the greatest Wimbledon rivalries of all time.

5. Serena Williams-Venus Williams 

L-R: Serena and Venus Williams.

The only years since 1999,  in which a Williams sister didn’t win a slam are- 2004, 2006 and 2011. This figure speaks volumes on the rivalry between the 20th and 21st centuries greatest sibling enmity, however only on court. The Williams sisters have faced off 27 times in total, 14 of which coming in Grand Slams. While it is no surprise that Serena has been the one to look out for, Venus too has been a force to reckon with. Holding a 4-2 win ratio at Wimbledon, Serena has been the world No. for 200+ weeks, as opposed to her sister, who’s been on the top for 11. Venus’s won the Wimbledon title against her sister in 2000 and in 2008, between which Serena defeated her twice at The Championships. Venus drew her first blood in 1998, when she won her first Grand Slam Title at the Australian Open. Their rivalry over the Grass Court continues this Wimbledon, as Venus goes seeded 8th, as opposed to Serena’s 1st with a clash possible only at Finals.

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