© Ella Ling

New York City

Top 10 tennis drinking stories

   

Top 10 tennis drinking stories. 

At the press conference which followed Andy Murray’s semi-final victory over Tomas Berdych at the US Open, he told his mother Judy: “Mum, you smell of wine.” Judy then pointed at Sir Alex Ferguson, who had stumbled into the room along with Sir Sean Connery: “He made me have wine. He’s just been telling me that Scotland invented the world.”

Sidney Wood, a Wimbledon champion, once found himself drunk on court at Roland Garros. “I found myself as Helen Wills Moody’s requested mixed doubles partner for the French Championships in Paris. Alas, however, for reasons beyond my control, our French title victory was denied by Napoleon. Napoleon brandy, that is. The afternoon of our mixed final, I first had to meet the rock-steady Rene Lacoste in singles, losing him in an unreal five-and-a-quarter, five-set grueller on a searing, 98-degree afternoon (one of the longest matches ever played in fact). Afterwards, we were laid out on adjoining locker room tables, and in seconds the cramps were jumping all over us,” Wood has recalled.

“They hit me everywhere, the worst of my life. As Rene and I writhed and groaned, Fred Moody, Helen’s husband, appeared with a pair of double Courvoisiers, Fred’s remedy for many ailments. He carefully trickled one down my throat, but Rene, an abstemious Prometheus to the end, turned his down, and Fred dosed me with that one, also. Then in walks the referee, all hands and shrugs, to announce that despite his minutes’ earlier assurance (before my brandy medication) that the mixed doubles final had been scheduled for the next day, it was now to be played immediately. After five humidity-draining sets, you have no idea how even a short snort can hit you, and I was now feeling no pain and ready to joust with Bill Tilden, Henri Cochet and Fred Perry, all at the same time. At the net, I was not encouraged to see more than one ball coming at me at the same time, and it seemed best to select one to hit and let the others pass. My pal Perry, who couldn’t believe I was still standing after my marathon, came up to the net to ask if I were okay. I said, ‘I’m smashed’. In a very short time we lost the match.”

Andre Agassi “consumed gallons of whisky” during his time at the Nick Bollettieri Academy. 

Li Na got drunk on beer in her hotel room after losing to Kim Clijsters at this year’s Australian Open. “For me is the worst because next day is Chinese New Year. After I lose the match, I was like, what was going on? Everyone was so happy without me, so I was like, okay, just take the beer and totally drunk. Next day I wake up, I was like, okay, forget what I do yesterday. You know, in China, how you say, if you lose the next day, they are feeling a whole year is not so lucky. So I said, okay, c’mon. I have four match points. Suddenly I was lost. I was like, okay, totally lost. I just drink all the time.”

Moments after playing his last match, Andy Roddick said: “I deserve a beer, maybe 10.” 

Marat Safin was always the libertine of the men’s game, and to celebrate beating Pete Sampras in the 2000 US Open final, he ordered in champagne and chilled vodka. 

Suzanne Lenglen used to drink from a brandy flask on court. Lenglen, who was handed the flask by her father between sets, sipped casually, as if there was nothing odd about drinking spirits during a match. Fortified by the brandy, Lenglen often played better on the resumption than she had been when sober.

Andrea Hlavackova’s father Jan is a “master brewer”, she likes drinking beer, and thinks all players should do it. 

Amelie Mauresmo, a former world number one, used to spend her time between matches researching wine to add to her collection. “I have some really nice bottles. Before buying a wine, I like to learn as much as I can about it. When I had nothing to do during a tournament, I would spend quite a bit of time on the internet hunting for bargains.”

The last time that Andy Murray drank alcohol was when he was a teenager and was training at an academy in Barcelona. He made himself ill, and has been teetotal since. 

   
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