Today at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis tournament was the first day of the longest professional tennis match ever played. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played for more than 11 hours over three days! Plus: since Wimbledon 2020 has been canceled, what are they doing with all those strawberries they usually sell?
We’re just a few days ahead of what was supposed to be the start of the 2020 Wimbledon tennis tournament.
Me, I’m still getting over what happened on this day at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis tournament.
Ten years ago today was the first day of the longest professional tennis match ever played.
It was in the first round of the men’s singles tournament: American John Isner, ranked 19th in the world, playing Nicolas Mahut of France, ranked 148th.
They began play on a Tuesday night, winning two sets apiece in about three hours before the match was suspended due to darkness.
Which seemed like no problem, since they could come back the next day and wrap up.
And that’s where it got tricky, because Wimbledon rules required that a player win the final set of the match by at least two games – there would be no tiebreaker if they won 6 games each.
And Isner and Mahut both kept winning games on Wednesday. The match went to 15-all, 20-all, 30-all, 40-all… there was a problem when they got to 47-all because the scoreboard couldn’t go any higher and needed to be fixed.
They had to suspend play for a second night at 59 games apiece, by which point this first-round match between two low-profile players was the talk of the tournament.
The Queen was visiting Wimbledon that Thursday, but she arguably got less attention than Mahut and Isner.
Other players were dropping by their court, or watching the seemingly endless contest on the locker room TVs.
Scoreboards on other courts were posting updates so fans could keep up.
Finally, Isner hit a passing shot down the line past Mahut to win the final set 70 games to 68.
The final score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.
In all, 11 hours, 5 minutes. The last set was 8 hours, 11 minutes long on its own.
And if that wasn’t enough – Mahut wasn’t finished playing for the day.
He was in the men’s doubles tournament and had to go off to that match!
Isner, meanwhile, lost his second round match in straight sets on account of being completely drained. Can you blame him?
The two players have since become good friends, which is not really a surprise.
I mean, if you play an 11 hour tennis match against somebody, it might be a good sign that you’re not sick of each other’s company.
Each year Wimbledon uses some 38 tons of strawberries to sell with cream to spectators.
This year they’re sending some of those strawberries to food banks and schools. Some will be sold fresh.
The rest will be made into jam, which is something we can look forward to down the road a ways. Sort of like next year’s Wimbledon.