When Tim Henman Was Defaulted at Wimbledon Championships Like Djokovic at US Open

Published 06/26/2021, 8:38 AM EDT


In tennis, fines, warnings, and code violations are common occurrences, but a player being disqualified from the tournament is rare. However, in a bizarre incident last year, fans across the world witnessed the disqualification of Novak Djokovic from the US Open for accidentally hitting the ball at the line’s judge.

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A tremendous uproar ensued Djokovic’s default, with former players criticizing the World No.1 for his actions. Few people know, a similar event happened at the 1995 Wimbledon Championships where British tennis player Tim Henman found himself at the recovering end of it.

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Tim Henman disqualified from the 1995 Wimbledon Championships

The then 20-year-old Henman entered the Wimbledon Championships alongside partner, Jeremy Bates, to compete for the doubles title. Playing against the doubles team Jeff Tarango and Henrik Holm in the first round, the thrilling match went into the fourth set.

After losing a point at the net cord at a crucial juncture of the fourth set tie-break, Henman took out a ball from his pocket and angrily hit it with full force, which accidentally smashed a ball girl in the ear.

In agonizing pain, the ball girl burst into tears as everyone in the crowd watched the shocking incident. As Henman had lashed out in frustration, the referee Alan Mills disqualified their doubles team for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Following the unsavory incident, Henman and his partner became the first players in the Open era to have defaulted at Wimbledon. However, right after the episode, the former World No.4 apologized to the ball girl and to everyone involved for his uncharacteristic actions.

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In fact, a day after, Henman presented the ball girl with a bouquet and posed for pictures while kissing her as a mark of showing his repentance.

During the post-match press conference, an emotional Henman said: “I was not happy at losing the point and was angry. I went to hit the ball hard. I’d looked to see if the linespeople were out of the way. It’s a complete accident, but I’m responsible for my actions.”

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Over the decades-long tennis history, few other players including John McEnroe, Anastasia Rodionova, David Nalbandian, and Nick Kyrgios, have been disqualified from tournaments because of infamous incidents.

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Kshitij Tayal

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Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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