TENNIS | WIMBLEDON
What are the all-time Wimbledon records? Fastest serves, aces, longest and shortest game...
The fastest serve record may well go one day but the longest match at the Championships will never be beaten.
The 2023 Wimbledon Championships are underway with nearly 800 players competing in 679 matches across the two weeks to decide the champions in various categories of singles and doubles, supported by some 6,000 staff including umpires, line judges, stewards and members of the referee’s office. As ever at Wimbledon, eyes are as much on the sky as the court, with the Championships stating that there have been just nine tournaments since 1922 where rain has not stopped play: these were in 1931, 1976, 1977, 1993, 1995, 2009, 2010 and 2019. Day 1 of 2023 ruled it out of joining that small list.
Wimbledon has been staged since 1877, when Spencer Gore claimed the first title, and has been held every year since apart from during the First World War (1915-18, the 1914 Championships taking place before the outbreak of hostilities), the Second World War (1940-45) and 2020, due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Here we take a look at some of the records established in SW19 over the tournament’s long history.
Most Championship wins
Swiss maestro Roger Federer holds the record for the most men’s single titles with eight, followed by US great Pete Sampras, who won Wimbledon seven times on his way to a career haul of 14 Grand Slams. Defending champion Novak Djokovic also has seven and is favourite to go level with Federer in SW19 this year. A quick shout out to William Renshaw, who won Wimbledon seven times between 1881 and 1889.
Martina Navratilova stands alone in the women’s history books with nine singles titles at Wimbledon, followed by Helen Wills Moody, who won eight times between 1927 and 1938 during the amateur era. Steffi Graf and Serena Williams each have seven titles while Billie Jean King’s six titles straddle both the amateur and Open Eras.
As rackets have developed, balls have become faster and players have become taller and more powerful over the years, the service speed generated has become quicker and quicker, even if the players of yore were literally allowed a running start. Until 1960, players had to keep one foot on the ground when serving but that didn’t stop Pancho Gonzalez sending down some screamers, although there was no technology in place to determine how fast the Mexican could smack a ball down the line.
That has proven to be a headache for statisticians down the years. Ellsworth Vines is said to have hit a 121mph serve at Wimbledon in 1932 and Bill Tilden reportedly hit an unverified serve of 163.3 mph. There are also disparities in the recognition of fastest serves: the two current fastest on record are not recognized by the ATP or WTA: Georgina García Pérez’s 136.7mph (220kmh) at the 2018 Hungarian Open and Sam Groth’s 163.4mph (263kmh) in 2012 at a Challenger event in Busan.
Currently, the fastest ATP and WTA rubber-stamped serves belong to John Isner, delivered during the 2016 Davis Cup at 157.2mph (253kmh) and Sabine Lisicki’s 2014 Stanford Classic serve of 131mph (210.8kmh).
At Wimbledon, the records are held by Taylor Dent (148mph / 238.2kmh in 2010) and Serena Williams (129mph / 207.6kmh in 2008).
John Isner holds the record for the most aces at Wimbledon with 214 in 2018, which is also the record for the most aces served at any tournament in history. Isner also holds the record for the most aces in a match, with 113 in his epic marathon against Nicolas Mahut in 2010, during which the Frenchman also hit 103 to stand second on the all-time list for a single match.
Serena Williams holds the women’s tournament record after sending down 102 aces on her way to the 2012 Wimbledon title. The seven-times champion served 24 in her semi-final against Victoria Azarenka and 23 in her third-round match against Zheng Jie. The all-time match record though is held by Kristyna Pliskova, who served 31 against Monica Puig at the 2016 Australian Open. The Czech, Karolina Pliskova’s twin sister, is also second on the list, and also against Puig, serving 28 aces in a single match at the 2019 Luxembourg Open. Remarkably, Puig won both contests.
The longest match in Wimbledon history is also the longest match in tennis history, by a margin of over four hours and was contested by Isner and Mahut in 2010 over the course of three days. The first-round contest between the US and French big servers clocked in at 11:05 hours, beating the previous record of 7:01 set during the 2013 Davis Cup by Swiss pair Stan Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli and Czech doubles team Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol.
The Isner-Mahut game went to 70-68 in the final set, which lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes: that single set was one hour and 38 minutes longer than the Davis Cup previous record-holder. Wimbledon has now ushered in fifth-set tie-breaks in line with the other three Grand Slams – Roland Garros also adopted the measure this season – so that record is likely to stand in tennis history forever.
The shortest match in Championships history took place in 1969, when Sue Tutt dispatched Marion Boundy in just 20 minutes, for the loss of two first-set games. The 1922 final between Suzanne Lenglen and Molla Mallory lasted just 23 minutes, with the same scoreline in favour of the Frenchwoman: 6-2, 6-0. The only Grand Slam final in history to end 6-0, 6-0 came at the 1988 French Open, when Steffi Graf blew Natasha Zvereva off court in just 32 minutes of playing time.