Serena Williams umpire storm, Zidane’s headbutt & sport’s most infamous meltdowns

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The tennis star is the latest to cause a storm but follows a long line of sports stars to lose their heads on the big stage

  1. Eric Cantona

    Eric Cantona is a man who plays by his own rules. 

    The enigmatic Frenchman was the focus of conversation throughout his time in English football but never more than when he launched a flying kick at a Crystal Palace supporter during Manchester United's 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park in 1995 in retaliation to something said from the crowd.

    Cantona was subsequently suspended by United until the end of the season and fined £20,000 ($26,000). Then, following a disciplinary hearing, the FA banned the forward for nine months and fine him a further £10,000 ($13,000).

  2. John McEnroe

    "You cannot be serious!"

    It's a phrase which continues to be used today, unwittingly coined by a young John McEnroe back in 1981.

    McEnroe was so enraged at Wimbledon umpire Edward James for refusing to rule his serve as a legal shot, that he hurled a moutful of abuse at the official with the aforementioned sentence later becoming the title of his biography.

    It did little to distract McEnroe, however, as he went on to win his first Wimbledon trophy.

  3. Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer

    Disagreements in training are a usual occurrence. It's not uncommon for players to confront each other during practice games and for their manager to quickly write it off as a display of determination or something equally as dismissive to the media. 

    However, what hadn't been seen before was two team-mates coming to blows in front of tens of thousands of supporters during a Premier League game.

    That's exactly what happened when Kieron Dyer decided not to pass to Lee Bowyer during Newcastle's meeting with Aston Villa in 2005, with the latter throwing the first punch in the extraordinary scrap which followed.

    Once their three minutes of madness had ended, both players were sent off. Bowyer was fined £30,000 ($39,000) and handed a six-game ban, while Newcastle fined him six weeks' wages. He was fined £600 ($780) and ordered to pay £1000 ($1300) costs by Northumbria Police with offences under section four of the Public Order Act, pleading guilty to using threatening behaviour.

  4. Rory McIlroy

    Rory McIlroy's run at the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Championship was a succesful one, but it didn't go quite as straightforwardly as he'd have liked.

    The Northern Irishman skewed his effort on his approach shot to the par-five eighth hole and threw a tantrum soon after, much to the amusement of those watching.

    When his strike ended up in the drink, the three-iron he used to take the shot quickly followed as McIlroy launched the club into the water.

  5. Paolo Di Canio

    Paolo Di Canio has never been far from controversy. 

    Rewind to September 1998 when the fiery Italian was on the books of Sheffield Wednesday, with the Owls playing Arsenal at Hillsbprough.

    After being sent off by Paul Alcock, Di Canio took it upon himself to shove the referee to the ground and make a scene that would ultimately land him a £10,000 ($13,000) fine and an 11-game suspension.

    "I want to say that I'm very, very sorry for what's happened," Di Canio said at the time. "I had a fair hearing. I'll see the Sheffield Wednesday fans on Boxing Day, the first game after my suspension."

  6. Jose Mourinho

    "Respect, respect, respect."

    Jose Mourinho has always been particularly snappy when results aren't going his way but after United's worst start to a league campaign in 26 years, the Portuguese looked close to breaking-point. 

    United opened the 2018-19 Premier League season with a win at home to Leicester City but were then beaten by both Brighton and Tottenham, adding to the pressure already mounting on Mourinho following his public fallout with Paul Pogba. 

    A bizarre post-match press conference after United were humiliated by Spurs 3-0 at Old Trafford sent the footballing world into meltdown as he took aim at everything and everyone before walking out after just three minutes.

    Read the details of Mourinho's moment of madness here on Goal!

  7. Mike Gatting

    During the second day of England's Test Match vs Pakistan in 1987, Mike Gatting was penalised by umpire Shakoor Rana while setting the field in the final over.

    It proved the last straw for Gatting, who berated officials after a a string of controversial decisions before being pulled away from the situation by those around him.

    Rana got the last laugh, however, as he successfully demanded a written apology the next day before resuming the match.

  8. Adrian Lewis

    Despite being a two-time World Darts Champion, Adrian Lewis' stock continued to fall in February after he was fined £3,000 ($3,900) and given a three-month ban.

    It came after Lewis confronted and pushed Jose Justicia during a UK Open Qualifier quarter-final at the start of the year and subsequently discipplined by the Darts Regulation Authority.

    "I realise now that I should have reported any problems to tournament officials instead of confronting Jose after the match," Lewis said following the incident.

  9. Jose Mourinho Part Two

    The Clasico rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is tense at the best of times, so when Jose Mourinho poked Barca assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye it sparked wild reaction.

    Mourinho's Real side were up against Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup when the Portuguese took it upon himself to sneak behind Vilanova and jab him in the eye with his finger.

    A mass brawl ensued and both Mourinho and Vilanova were handed Super Cup bans by the Spanish soccer federation.

  10. Dennis Rodman

    Controversial Chicago Bulls forward Dennis Rodman found himself in hot water in 1997 after kicking a court-side cameraman during a game against Minnesota Timberwolves.

    The kick came after Rodman stumbled out of bounds and photographer Eugene Amos pointed his camera at the player, before a kick was unleashed and Amos was taken to hospital on a stretcher. 

    Not only was Rodman suspended for 11 games and fined $25,000 (£19,000) by the league, he was also sued by Amos and agreed to pay an additional $200,000 (£153,000).

  11. Marcos Baghdatis

    New rackets, please! Tennis is a sport which has seen many pieces of equipment bite the dust, with the racket the most common victim to player frustration.

    Back in 2012, during the Australian Open, Marcos Baghdatis was so enraged with what he saw on-court that he smashed not one racket, but four. 

    He was eventually fined A$770 (£600/$780) by the competition body as a result of his meltdown.

  12. Ben Flower

    The 2014 Super League Grand Final was one to forget for Ben Flower.

    The Wigan Warriors prop became the first man to be sent off in the final of the competition after being dismissed for an attack on Lance Hohaia, who was judged to have caught Flower unfairly moments before.

    Flower was subsequently given a six-month ban by the RFL, the longest in the competition's history, while Hohaia was forced to retire from the game because of recurrent concussions.

  13. Mike Tyson

    Mike Tyson is one of the most widely recognised sports personalities in the history of sport. 

    The former undisputed world heavyweight champion boxer was the face of the sport during the late eighties and early nineties, defending his titles on nine occasions before ending his career in 2005. One fight in particular, though, continues to be discussed more than his others.

    Tyson would step into the ring with Evander Holyfield for a second time in 1997 in a match now known as 'The Bite Fight'. 

    During round three of the bout, Tyson was disqualified for ripping part of Holyfield's ear off with his teeth, a bizarre showing which would see him lose his boxing license.

  14. Zinedine Zidane

    It remains as one of the most infamous moments in the sport's long history. 

    During the 2006 World Cup final, a showdown between two international giants in France and Italy, Zinedine Zidane stole the headlines. 

    With the game tied at 1-1 and having entered extra time, the France midfielder tussled with Italy's Marco Materazzi. A short verbal exchange followed before Zidane threw himself into his opponent, headbutting him in the chest and knocking him to the ground.

    Italy went on to win the trophy while Zidane immediately called time on his career after being sent off. He also agreed to complete three days of community service and takes the crown for the most ludicrous behaviour in a World Cup final.

  15. Serena Williams

    Serena Williams is the latest sports star to be caught in the spotlight for a furious outburst.

    During the women’s final of the US Open, Williams - one of the most decorated players in the game's history - was accused by umpire Carlos Ramos of cheating by receiving a 'coaching' during the game. 

    “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose," Williams snapped at Ramos before breaking her racket in half and calling him a 'thief' for supposedly stealing a point from her.

    Williams has since been fined $17,000 (£13,100) for code violations and has sparked wild debate on whether or not her, and indeed Ramos', actions were just.