Tennis lovers worldwide should have been licking their lips in anticipation of the Wimbledon finals this weekend.

There were two contrasting singles championship matches last year, Simona Halep dismantling Serena Williams before Novak Djokovic got the better of Roger Federer in an epic marathon five-set thriller.

Centre Court crowds and millions watching all over the planet have been treated to classic finals over the years, but there have also been showdowns that many would have expected to see that never transpired.

While there was no 2020 grass-court grand slam this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at a selection of finals that never occurred at the All England Club for one reason or another.

 

Steffi Graf v Martina Hingis

Graf and Hingis met twice at SW19 but the latest round in which they did battle was for a place in the quarter-finals.

German legend Graf was unable to go for a third consecutive Wimbledon title in 1997 due to injury and it was Swiss sensation Hingis who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first and only time, defeating Jana Novotna.

Novotna gained revenge by dumping Hingis out at the semi-final stage 12 months later after Graf - 12 years older than Hingis - was beaten by Natasha Zvereva in the third round.

Hingis never went beyond the quarter-finals after that, while in 1999 Graf fell to Lindsay Davenport in her last appearance at a tournament she won seven times.

 

John McEnroe v Boris Becker

McEnroe and Becker have shared a commentary box at Wimbledon, but they were never on the opposite side of the net in a final.

A packed crowd would have most certainly been on the edge of their seats to watch two of the most colourful characters in the sport throw everything at each other in pursuit of major glory, but it was not to be.

The closest it came to materialising was in 1989, when American legend McEnroe was denied a place in the final by Stefan Edberg.

Becker beat Edberg in the final to take the title for a third and last time. They may well have met in a final if McEnroe had not missed the 1986 tournament due to taking a break from the sport or suffered a back injury the following year.

 

Justine Henin v Kim Clijsters

Belgium would have surely come to a standstill if Henin and Clijsters had graced Centre Court in a final.

Henin won seven grand slam titles before retiring in 2008 aged only 25 and although she made a comeback in 2010, the former world number one called it a day again the following year as she struggled with an elbow injury.

She quit as a two-time Wimbledon runner-up, while Clijsters - who announced she was making a surprise comeback last year - has never reached the final at SW19.

Semi-final appearances in 2003 and 2006 are as far as Clijsters has been at Wimbledon, and it is a great shame the four-time major singles winner and her compatriot never contested a battle of Belgium for one of the biggest prizes in sport at the peak of their powers.

 

Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal

There have been 24 matches contested by Murray and Nadal, with three of those staged at Wimbledon.

Nadal broke the hearts of Murray fans by beating him on each occasion at his home grand slam, twice in the semi-finals and once in the last eight 12 years ago.

You have to go back to 2011 for Spanish legend Nadal's last appearance in a Wimbledon final, while Murray was crowned champion four years ago but has not played in the tournament since 2017 due to career-threatening hip injury.

While a fit-again Murray is hoping to work his way back to the top and Nadal remains a huge force, time is not on their side and it appears unlikely they will be opponents in a Wimbledon final.

June 10 will forever be remembered as a famous day in Italian football, as it marks the first time the Azzurri conquered the world and Europe.

It is also a date on which Al Geiberger made history on the PGA Tour and Sebastian Coe set an 800m world record that went unbroken for 16 years.

Many French Open tennis finals have been held on this day, but the battle between Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe in 1984 stands out.

This was also the date on which the first University Boat Race, one of the oldest annual sporting events in the world, was held in London.

 

1829 - Oxford win first University Boat Race

The University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, England's most prestigious higher-education bodies, has been held annually on the Thames since 1856. The only exceptions were caused by the First and Second World Wars (no races took place from 1915-19 and 1940-45) and in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic intervened.

The very first such event took place back on June 10, 1829. Oxford triumphed by nearly two lengths in around 14 minutes and 30 seconds.

Cambridge got revenge at the second race, seven years later, and they still lead the overall standings 84-80.

 

1934 - Italy win home World Cup

The second football World Cup took place in Italy 86 years ago, under the shadow of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime.

The host nation triumphed after a 2-1 victory over Czechoslovakia in scorching temperatures in Rome, Angelo Schiavo scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.

Italy tasted more success at a home tournament on this date in 1968, winning their only European Championship to date with a 2-0 defeat of Yugoslavia, a match also played in Rome.

That fixture was a replay after the teams had battled out a 1-1 draw two days earlier at the same Stadio Olimpico venue.

 

1977 - Al Geiberger cards sub-60 round

Geiberger claimed 30 professional wins in his career including the PGA Championship in 1966, but he is widely remembered for becoming the first player in history to card a score of 59 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

His bogey-free second round helped him to win the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in 1977, even though it was the only round where he shot under 70.

That round of 59 has been equalled nine times since and beaten only once: Jim Furyk carded a 58 final round at the 2016 Travelers Championship.

 

1981 - Sebastian Coe sets 800m world record

Coe produced a run for the ages in the 800 metres on June 10, 1981 in Florence.

His world record of one minute and 41.73 seconds lasted for 16 years until Wilson Kipketer twice recorded lower times in 1997, and it was not until August 2010 that David Rudisha went even faster.

Coe remains the joint-third fastest man to run the distance in history – Nijel Amos equalled his time at the 2012 Olympics in London. That run by Amos was only good enough for silver, since Rudisha took the gold with a world record of 1:40.91, which still stands.

 

1984 - Lendl defeats McEnroe in Paris

McEnroe had the chance to silence those who questioned whether he could cut it on clay when he reached his first French Open final in 1984.

He took the first two sets against Ivan Lendl, who had lost all four of his previous major finals, but things unravelled as McEnroe's famous short temper got the better of him.

Lendl triumphed 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5 for his first of eight grand slam singles titles, three of which came in Paris. McEnroe never made a Roland Garros final again, although he did win at Wimbledon and the US Open – his last major victories – later in the year.

Australian Open organisers have hit back at tennis greats Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe, saying they "breached protocols" in their protest against the controversial Margaret Court.

Navratilova and McEnroe have called for the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park to be renamed the Evonne Goolagong Arena after the indigenous Australian tennis icon.

The saga comes amid continued controversy over 11-time Australian Open winner Court's discriminatory views on race, homosexuality and the transgender community.

With McEnroe present on Tuesday, Navratilova climbed into an empty umpire's chair at the end of a legends doubles match and embarked on a speech, before the microphone was cut off midway through.

The pair then held up a banner which read 'Evonne Goolagong Arena'.

These events come a day after Navratilova had written a letter calling for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed while, McEnroe, in an address to Eurosport, labelled Court the "crazy aunt" of tennis and branded her "offensive and homophobic".

He urged Serena Williams to pass Court's total of 24 grand slam titles so the Australian could be left in the past with "her offensive views, where they both belong."

While in the umpire's chair, Navratilova said: "I've been speaking out about an issue for a while now and John McEnroe is here to join me and push the conversation forward."

But the Australian Open, while acknowledging Navratilova and McEnroe were entitled to express their views, were not impressed with the methods used to further the cause in Tuesday's protest.

"We embrace diversity, inclusion and the right for people to have a view, as well as their right to voice that view," read the tournament's statement.

"But the Australian Open has regulations and protocols with respect to how any fan, player or guest can use our facility, the event and the global stage it provides. This is to ensure the integrity of our event.

"Two high-profile guests have breached these protocols and we are working through this with them."

Court was not given the microphone during a reduced appearance in a special ceremony at the Australian Open on Monday, where the 50th anniversary of her achieving the calendar Grand Slam was recognised.

Margaret Court received a surprisingly warm ovation during a special ceremony at the Australian Open on Monday.

The controversial 77-year-old Australian was honoured during a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her Grand Slam, winning all four majors in 1970.

Court has previously been criticised for comments on race, homosexuality and the transgender community.

However, the 24-time grand slam singles champion was greeted by applause and cheers during the presentation on Rod Laver Arena.

She was presented with a replica Australian Open trophy by Rod Laver, who received a huge cheer.

Court remains the record holder for most grand slam singles titles, with Serena Williams stuck on a tally of 23 that she will not add to in Melbourne this year.

Another tennis great, John McEnroe, criticised Court in a video posted by Eurosport on Twitter earlier on Monday.

"It's the 50th anniversary of Margaret Court's Grand Slam, and Tennis Australia is facing a dilemma: what do they do with their crazy aunt?" the seven-time major champion said.

"They finally decided to invite her, but it came with a twist, 'we will recognise what she did in 1970, but we won't celebrate the person'.

"Huh? Well it doesn't work that way. You can't separate the person from her achievements."

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