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Ranking the 10 Most Controversial Moments in US Open History

Controversial Moments in US Open

Controversies are no stranger to the US Open. Starting from Serena William’s Catsuit act in 2002 to a heated argument between Andy Roddick and Djokovic, the Arthur Ashe stadium has witnessed some bizarre moments and outbreaks over the Decades. Yet, if we have to list down the Top 10 controversial moments of US Open, there were many instances that would make the cut.

The US Open tennis championship is an annual hard-court event that takes place during the month of May-June. While the weather does stay a bit warmer during this time of the year, it’s the on-court feuds that often raise the temperature in the stadium.

The following list of Top 10 controversial moments of US Open brings some of the most talked-about controversies and altercations in the history of this signature tennis event.

#10. Ilie Nastase “sleeping act” Against John McEnroe (1979)

Ilie Nastase “sleeping act' during his match against John McEnroe grabbed all the headlines

Credits : Getty Images

It’s not that usual to find a player mocking his opponent in the most bizarre way possible on the tennis court. During a second-round clash against American John McEnroe, Romanian tennis player Ilie Nastase put up a pretentious sleeping act on the baseline to protest about Mcenroe’s delaying tactics in between the sets.

Nastase received a one-point penalty for the act initially and further got defaulted by the match officials for his behavior. The drama triggered a complete chaos and mess around the court. The chaotic incident instigated Nastase’s fans to come up with some big rants and screams against Mcenroe and the Umpires.

As a result, The match play got stalled for around 20 minutes, Nastase was eventually reinstated. Nevertheless, he fell to a straight-set defeat against the American tennis star.

The good thing is the on-field altercation between the the two stars, didn’t come up as a big dent to their friendship and to everyone’s surprise, they even went to dinner together after the match.

#9. Andy Roddick entered into a heated argument with Novak Djokovic (2008)

Andy Roddick entered into a heated argument with Novak Djokovic post match

Credits : Getty Images

Former US Open champion and American tennis star Andy Roddick is quite notorious for his on-court feuds and altercations with his opponents. So, when he faced the current world number one Novak Djokovic in the 2008 US open, a certain fallout was right on the cards.

Luckily, everything went well during the match as Djokovic claimed an easy victory over the American tennis player. Yet, things really got heated up in the locker room post-match. Roddick, being the most experienced among the two, felt offended by Djokovic’s “chirping” act towards him after the match,.

The two tennis players got indulged in a small altercation in the locker room. Even though the argument was short-lived, it did create a bitter-sweet rivalry between the Serbian and the American tennis player for times to come.

#8. Serena Williams flaunting a catsuit during the match (2002)

Serena Williams flaunts a catsuit during a US open match

credits : Getty Images

Serena Williams is undoubtedly the most controversial female figure in the tennis arena. Time and time again, she has found her way into numerous controversies and altercations on and off the court. Speaking of controversy, no one can forget her memorable outfits during her stint at the 2002 U.S. Open.

During the event, Williams sported a black catsuit by Puma. While the outfit didn’t go well with many tennis fans and experts, Williams shut down every argument in similar regards. She even got questioned for her gimmicks during the post-match press conference.

In response, the American tennis star said that she sent her request to tournament officials for pre-approval. Nevertheless, the outfit didn’t come as a hindrance to Serena’s performance as she came out with the US Open women’s title that year.

#7. Illegal coaching accusations on Maria Sharapova (2006)

Illegal coaching accusations were put on Maria Sharapova during her US open final match

Credits : Getty Images

Maria Sharapova appears to be one of the most followed tennis stars of the yesteryears. Besides claiming some famous victories and adding titles to her name, the Russian tennis star couldn’t resist herself from stepping into some unwanted controversies at the US Open.

Her maiden US open title victory came in 2006. Yet, few fans and tennis experts questioned the legitimacy of her win. As per the accusations, her father, Yuri, was seen holding a banana at least twice during the match.

It was further claimed that Yuri is illegally coaching his daughter- something that played a key role in her victory during the event. Sharapova, on the other side, completely denied the assumptions and accusations in the same regard. As per Sharapova, her father was only reminding her to have something during the break.

#6. Alizé Cornet shirt-changing act on the court (2018)

Alizé Cornet shirt-changing act made her fall into an unwanted controversy

Credits : Getty Images

Tennis has its long time years old association with sexism-related controversies. Unfortunately when it comes to the US Open, you can certainly find numerous instances on similar regards. One of such instance included French athlete Alizé Cornet who removed her shirt infront of the world during a round 1 match at the 2018 US open.

We must mention here that Cornet took off her Lacoste top during a heat-mandated break and later put it on. As a result, she got handed a code violation by the match referee during the match. Fans and players immediately criticized the violation, while saying that the Male players are allowed to change their shirts.

Eventually, Cornet received an apology from the tournament officials with a  clarification that all players are allowed to change their clothes in their respective chairs or off-court.

#5. When a spectator got shot during the match (1977)

a spectator got shot during the US open match in 1977

Credits : Getty Images

You don’t often hear about a random spectator being shot during an ongoing tennis match. Yet, that turned out to be the reality during a US Open match involving the likes of John Mcenroe and Eddie Dibbs.

McEnroe was getting along with his third-round clash against compatriot Eddie Dibbs. The male spectator, who was being shot on the stands by a shooter, was taken away in a stretcher by the medical officer present in the arena. The person eventually survived the fatal attack. Although police couldn’t detect the offender, they deemed it as a very unfortunate accident. According to the reports, the victim fell to a bullet shot from the streets of Queens. The bullet, as per the reports, bounced and recoiled its way into the tennis stadium while hitting the man’s thigh.

#4. When a transgender tennis player denied entry into the women’s singles event (1977)

 transgender tennis player denied entry into the women’s single event in 1977 US open

Credits : Getty Images

During the 1977 US Open, Renee Richards came up as the first transgender person to play at a Grand Slam singles tournament. We must mention here that Richard Raskind did make five appearances in the US Open between 1953 and 1960 as a Male tennis player.

Given his transitioning in 1975, she was banned by United States Tennis Association from playing in the ladies’ singles tournament in 1976. Richards legally challenged the decision in the following summer, luckily the New York Supreme Court passed the verdict to her favor.

Nevertheless, Richard’s first stint in the Women’s championship didn’t go well as she got defeated by defending Wimbledon champion, Britain’s Virginia Wade in the first round.

#3. Line judge got arrested on a Murder charge (2012)

A line judge got arrested for murder charge right before the US open event

Credits : Getty Images

It’s not just about the players and various match officials and umpires who have born the brunt of various controversies and allegations.  In one of the most bizarre moments in tennis history, a new york-based 70-year-old line judge and umpire got arrested for killing her husband with a coffee cup. The woman was all set to officiate at the 2012 US Open but taken in custody for murder charges.

The woman named Lois Goodman further got acquitted from the charges due to a lack of evidence against her. She never stood in the trial and even passed the polygraph test to testify her statement. Eventually, she returned to Flushing Meadows the following summer to resume back on her role as a match official.

#2. Play suspended due to an on-court brawl (2010)

Play suspended due to an on-court brawl during the US open match

Credits : Getty Images

At number two we have one of the most controversial moments in the history of the US Open. During a match of Novak Djokovic at the 2010 US Open, a small group of fans entered into a scuffle high up in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.The play got suspended for some good time until the security took the brawlers out of the picture.  While players and match officials were left completely shocked, the police called it a mere incident of a heated argument between two groups.

#1. Serena Williams’s abusive act against a lineswoman (2009)

Serena Williams's abusive act against a lineswoman in US open

Credits : Getty Images

You cannot keep Serena Williams away from controversies. Time and again, the American tennis star has found herself indulged in some infamous feuds and altercations with the match officials. During the 2009 US open, she abused the lineswomen for a wrong call in her match against Kim Clijsters.

The American got furious at the official’s call for a foot-fault, which took Kim Clijsters to match point in their semi-final clash. Given her unprofessional behavior, Williams received a point penalty, which gave Clijsters the match.

Even though Williams lost the match, she earned the respect and support of millions of tennis fans across the globe. There were few fans who even took to social media while calling this act the ‘coolest thing ever seen on a Tennis court.


Whether it’s Tennis or any other sport, controversies will keep rushing in on way or another. Regardless of what happens, we at 7upsports will keep you updated with every inside story and factual information in the same regard. Stay tuned!


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