Browse Did You Know…? by Subject

Did you know…?

The longest tennis match in history lasted three days.

The longest tennis match in history lasted three days.

At 6:13 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, 2010, tennis players John Isner and Nicolas Mahut started their tournament game at Wimbledon. The game was not expected to be anything spectacular—American-born Isner was seeded 23rd, and the French Mahut had not even been seeded, earning his place only by winning a pre-qualifying tournament. At 9:07 p.m., after four matches, the game was halted due to darkness. The score was two sets each.

At 2:05 p.m. the next day, June 23, Isner and Mahut started where they left off. At 5:45 p.m. they broke the record for the longest game played, but they were nowhere near done. At 9:05 p.m. the game was again suspended for darkness, despite the screams of “We want more! We want more!” from the spectators. The score was 59-59 in the final set. Isner said, “I was completely delirious. … Even though it was dark, and no one could see, I wanted a final verdict, win or lose. I didn’t want to have to sleep on it. But it wasn’t to be.” He went to his room that night and took an ice bath, while fellow player Andy Roddick brought him scads of takeout food.

Thursday afternoon, June 24, a straightfaced Mahut and a muttering Isner were back on the court. The exhausted players resumed the game at 3:43 p.m. One hour and five minutes later, after 20 games, Isner won the deciding final set, with a backhand shot. The score was 70-68.

The entire match took 183 games and ran 11 hours and 5 minutes. The match actually broke several tennis records, including each player serving more than 100 aces, and has since been nicknamed “The Endless Match.” There was no rest for the weary, though—Isner was back on the court at noon the next day, to play 49th-ranked Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands.