There may have been some sore necks the day Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner met in the first round of the 1984 Central Fidelity Banks International tennis tournament in Richmond, Virginia. Spectators watching the back-and-forth action between the players ranked No. 93 and No. 172 in the world were treated to a monumental 29-minute, 643-shot rally before Nelson finally won the point, on her way to a 6-4, 7-6 victory.
The entire match lasted 6 hours, 31 minutes, and still stands as the longest women's match in professional tennis history -- even though it was a straight sets win. “I thought I was going to go crazy,” Nelson told reporters afterward. “No matter what I did with the ball, she kept getting it back.”
Serving up some tennis records:
- But that certainly wasn’t the sport’s longest match. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battled for 11 hours and 5 minutes at Wimbledon in 2010. Isner moved on, only to be ousted in the next round in a little over an hour.
- At the 2015 Davis Cup, Leonardo Mayer went toe-to-toe with João Souza in a first round tussle won by Mayer in 6 hours and 43 minutes. Seven of the 10 longest matches in history have been played at the Davis Cup.
- In the 2004 French Open, it took five sets for Fabrice Santoro to dispatch Arnauld Clement in the second-longest match in Grand Slam history. In all, the two Frenchmen served, lobbed, and volleyed for 6 hours and 33 minutes.