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5 tennis players who could win an Oscar

Anuradha Santhanam

This may not be hers, but those 21 Grand Slams certainly areWhile many of the best tennis players in the world are now known for being quiet, calm and collected on court, several others are notorious for their dramatics.Some players scream, some cry, others argue a point like their lives depend on it, or perhaps just because they can.Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won an Oscar, let's take a look at some tennis players who could win awards for their own histrionics.Without further ado, the nominees are:

#6 (Dis)honourable mention: Nick Kyrgios

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Nominated for: Rogers Cup 2015, against Stan Wawrinka

The Academy Awards don't have a category for Best Negative Character, a category Bollywood is enamoured with. But if it did, that title would go firmly to Nick Kyrgios. Tennis’ poster boy for tantrums, either unintentionally or by design, the young Australian’s foul temper and on-court tirades have overshadowed his obvious tennis skill.

He uses profanity on court with complete impunity, and indulges in behaviour that is strictly against the code of conduct at nearly every venue he has played so far.

It’s difficult to pinpoint one exact moment of Kyrgios’ dirty behaviour because of their sheer volume. He has destroyed racquets, cursed at umpires, opponents and dropped f-bombs with abandon, but perhaps his most infamous and vile moment came at the Australian’s Rogers Cup match against Swiss ace Stan Wawrinka in 2015.

The World No. 4, struggling with a bad back, had won the first set but lost the second, and had been trailing Kyrgios 2-0 in the third. Unbeknownst to Wawrinka, the Australian 20-year-old made a crude remark about his opponent’s rumoured partner, tennis player Donna Vekic, and Kyrgios’ own Davis Cup teammate Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Wawrinka eventually retired from that match due to a back strain, and even shook hands with Kyrgios as the pair left court, unaware at the time of his remarks.

Spectators and press had caught on to Kyrgios’ crude jibe, however, and he was quizzed about it before he had a chance to leave court.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, and characteristically of a movie villain, Kyrgios was completely unashamed and unapologetic, insinuating that Wawrinka deserved the remark.

The Swiss was obviously displeased when he found out about the remarks, but took the high ground, only addressing them to suggest Kyrgios ha dbeen out of line and should be fined.

Meanwhile, the 20-year-old played himself, perhaps an eclectic mix of film's most obnoxious characters – the spoiled children from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Mean Girls’ Regina George, with a good mix of the immature Steve Stifler from American Pie thrown in for good measure.

And it's something he continues to do.

None for you, Nick Kyrgios!

#5 Andre Agassi

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Nominated for: US Open 2006, 3R against Benjamin Becker; Life

Agassi has had his share of serious ups and downs in a life lived significantly in the public eye. Unlike several other public sporting figures, he chose to eventually come clean and write about his troubles, including his struggles with drug abuse at the peak of his career.

In fact, the American champion's own life has seen so much tension that it could be an Oscar-worthy film all on its own. He saw difficulties early in life, living and growing up with a father he has described as abusive and violent. In his autobiography, Open, Agassi spoke about how his father held the driver of a car the pair were in at gunpoint.

His father was known to deride him regularly, berating him for what he perceived as his son’s shortcomings after lackluster performances. Psychologically traumatized and dealing with the breakdown of his marriage to model and actress Brooke Shields (another Hollywood angle for the ace), Agassi took to using crystal meth.

He would go to rehab and deal with his drug problem, and after battling through his demons, he had the happy ending most films look towards – he met and eventually married another former World No. 1 and one of the greatest players to have ever graced a tennis court – Steffi Graf, with whom he went on to have two children.

Another Oscar-worthy moment in Agassi’s life, one that did not end as happily for the American ace, came at the 2006 US Open, his final match. Playing a relatively-unknown German named Benjamin Becker (no relation to Boris), an aging Andre Agassi went down in four closely-contested sets against his 25-year-old opponent.

The entire match was emotionally charged – crowd, Becker, Agassi himself as Graf and the pair’s children watched on from the sidelines.

Never one to shy away from emotion, Agassi cried as his home crowd gave him a four-minute standing ovation, as his Grand Slam-winning wife sobbed from the sidelines.

With an incessantly cheering crowd in the background, a young Benjamin Becker simply said “he was my idol, and I wish him all the best in life,” bringing to an end one of tennis’ most emotionally charged matches.

He walked off court thanking fans for everything they had done, saying he would “carry the memory of you for the rest of my life."

#4 Jana Novotna

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Nominated for: Wimbledon 1993, Final against Steffi Graf

Emotions run high at Wimbledon, likely due to the immense prestige associated with tennis’ oldest Grand Slam. Czech former World No. 2 Jana Novotna had reached the finals of a Grand Slam before, but had never won a title.

In fact, having reached the finals at Wimbledon three times before – including only the year before - in 1992, Novotna had gone down to Swiss Miss Martina Hingis. The third time had not been the charm.

In 1993, Novotna blazed through opponents like a comet, systematically taking apart Gabriela Sabatini and Greatest of All Time title contender Martina Navratilova, like Rocky Balboa in the ring as Eye of the Tiger played in the background.

Novotna’s Apollo Creed was none other than the legendary Steffi Graf.

The Czech may not have had the skill of the German icon, but she was more than a worthy competitor. After a serious back and forth between the two, with the first set going to tiebreak - and eventually to Graf, Novotna pummelled her to take the second 6-1.

With all the makings of the world’s most dramatic fight, Novotna had been leading the deciding set 4-1 – and managed to commit a double fault that let Michael Corleone...er, Steffi Graf, back into the game.

Graf grabbed the opportunity with both hands and won the title, but the drama didn’t end there. A devastated Novotna began to sob on court, and as if on cue, the Duchess of Kent came forward to comfort the Czech, breaking royal protocol as the grateful runner-up continued to sob.

If you’re looking for Rocky meets less cerebral cinema in The Princess Diaries, the 1993 Wimbledon final fits that bill perfectly.

#3 Goran Ivanisevic

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Nominated for: Wimbledon 2001, Final against Pat Rafter

To be fair to Ivanisevic, this was a Grand Slam final. Any player, even a top-ranked one, would likely be overcome with emotion after having one of the most prestigious titles in the sport.

The Croat, who was once nicknamed Zec (rabbit) for his speed on court, had been the runner-up at The Championships on three occasions through the 1990s, had experienced the poor run of form a number of top 10 players have seen, and the former World No. 2 had dropped to 125th in the ATP world rankings by the time the 2001 Championships rolled around.

From being one of the top seeds at the tournament, Ivanisevic entered Wimbledon 2001 as a wildcard. Reigning champion Pete Sampras fell to a teenager named Roger Federer, and that year Ivanisevic played like a man possessed – by the ghost of his former self.

He beat former top-ranked players Marat Safin, Tim Henman and a series of players ranked much higher than himself en route to meeting a former World No. 1 in the finals. To make matters even more difficult for Ivanisevic, his eventual opponent – Pat Rafter – had been the runner-up only the previous year, for a second year running.

Rafter had also won both his own Singles Slam titles by then, while Goran had never made it past the semi-finals of one.

With everything against him, the big-serving Croat put in his all, and stopped just before championship point to look up to the skies and pray.

And the fourth time was the charm! Winning his own only Grand Slam singles title and the first ever one for a Croat, Goran dropped to his knees, then running into the stand and crying as his own team burst into tears.

Oscar-worthy histrionics, but totally understandable in this case. A real-life Rocky and Forrest Gump victory all rolled into one.

Life is like a box of trophies.

#2 John McEnroe

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Nominated for: Wimbledon 1981, 1R against Tom Gullikson

Former World No. 1 John McEnroe is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Unfortunately for the American, his tennis skill isn’t all he is iconic for; it is his temper that precedes him, a temper that has scared line judges, chair umpires, opponents and juniors alike over the many years of McEnroe’s career.

He may be pursuing his musical interests far more actively since his retirement – and is even married to a professional rock musician, but McEnroe’s emotional outbursts are reminiscent enough of the Revenant to win him an Academy Award.

McEnroe may not draw comparisons with any of this year’s Oscar nominated roles, but through his career could be the perfect sporting equivalent to The Big Lebowski‘s Walter Sobchak.

Obviously he's not a golfer.

Perhaps Innaritu could cast him as the bear if they did a remake.

#1 Serena Williams

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Nominated for: US Open SF, 2009 against Kim Clijsters

At the top of her game once more following a few years in a slump, Serena Williams has proven over the past few years that she is in a league of her own. Unparalleled in terms of both skill and raw power, she may have suffered two big upsets – the 2015 US Open and the Australian Open of 2016, but even then, the American tennis icon reached the semi-finals at the former and the finals at the latter, which saw Germany’s Angelique Kerber tax her before taking victory.

She has shown exactly why, time and time again, she is consistently voted one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen.

Serena has never shied away from being vocal on court. She has had fights with line judges, ball boys and girls, opponents, audience members. The famously hot-headed American is feisty both on and off-court, and chooses to silence her critics both with racquet and without.

At the 2009 US Open, Williams, who had already won the title at that venue three times, was in the semi-finals and pitted against Belgian ace Kim Clijsters. Home favourite Serena had lost the first set 4-6 and was trailing 5-6 in the second, which likely fanned the flames of her already notoriously short temper.

A line judge calling a foot fault against Williams proved to be the undoing of any calm on court. Williams completely lost her temper, unleashing what was said to be a series of profanities against the line judge. In fact, her temper continued much after the initial outburst; accused of threatening the judge with bodily harm, Williams audibly screamed “I did not threaten to kill you!”

And in that moment, Williams transformed from tennis player to Butch in Pulp Fiction when he loses his watch. Or Samuel L. Jackson in the same film.

Edited by Staff Editor

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