Wimbledon Court 18

London, United Kingdom | C.1877

Photo Credit: Shannon DeCock

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The longest tennis match ever played took place right here, lasting 183 games over 3 days of play between 2 men…

As witness and host to over 100 years of sports history, this masterfully manicured lawn has hosted the Wimbledon Championships since 1922. Home to one of the four “Grand Slams” of professional tennis, playing in the tournament takes much more than the skill of an artful amateur. John Isner and Nicholas Mahut learned this the hard way in 2010, volleying back and forth for 11 hours and 5 mins.

It began like any tennis match—with a precise serve. As the opponents began trading match points, it soon became clear to spectators that the two battling sportsmen were equally matched. Possibly too equal.

In 2010, matches in the Wimbledon Tournament were a best-of-5 setup, where the 5th match was meant to serve as a tiebreaker if needed. Never before experienced, Isner and Mahut tested these rules as neither could win the 5th set. Daylight dwindled and their Tuesday match was continued on Wednesday. After another full day of play, and no one being able to claim victory once again before sunset, play moved into Thursday. While ticket holders may have prepared for a day at Wimbledon, no one was expecting a 3 for 1 deal. Even Court 18’s scoreboard was not ready for the ordeal, going dark after a 47-47 tie as it could not support further numbers.

After 183 games, 665 minutes, and over 216 combined aces, John Isner finally broke through at 4:47PM, falling to the ground in victory after the longest tennis marathon to ever occur. While Nicholas Mahut may have lost to his American foe, both Mahut and Isner understood the significance of the moment and were forever bonded by the three-day battle royale, and remain friends to this day.

:memo: Written by: Seamus McMahon

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