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Biggest sporting upsets: Vondrousova joins list of surprise successes

| 17.07.2023

After Marketa Vondrousova defied pre-tournament odds of 100/1 to win the 2023 Wimbledon women’s singles title, we’re taking a look at some of the other biggest sporting upsets of all time.

Less than two years after Emma Raducanu’s shock US Open triumph at the age of 18, tennis served up another bizarre grand slam result.

Czech ace Vondrousova emerged as one of the most unlikely champions at the All England Club and the first unseeded women’s winner with a 6-4 6-4 victory against favourite Ons Jabeur in the final.

Vondrousova’s success was all the more surprising given her lack of pedigree on grass and a long injury absence last year following wrist surgery.

“As no unseeded player had ever won the women’s title in the Open era, it’s perhaps not surprising Vondrousova was a 100/1 outsider going into this Wimbledon but she defied those odds in style, an outcome only a handful of clever punters predicted before the tournament started,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

Here, we look at other shock results worthy of a place among the biggest sporting upsets:


Leicester were listed as 5,000/1 outsiders at the start of the 2015/16 Premier League season, having only just avoided relegation the previous term.

However, new manager Claudio Ranieri inspired an incredible turnaround, with Jamie Vardy banging in the goals and N’Golo Kante helping to shore things up in midfield.

The Foxes defied all odds to top the table by 10 points and land a series of monster bets for their supporters.


Undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was knocked out in Tokyo by underdog James ‘Buster’ Douglas in February 1990 – boxing’s biggest ever upset.

Odds of 42/1 were available for Douglas, who recovered from being floored in the eighth round to knock out the “baddest man on the planet” in the 10th.

Douglas had lost his mum 23 days before the fight and when later asked how he had pulled off such a shock result, he declared: “Because of my mother – God bless her heart.”

Ice hockey

A team of American college players defied the odds to beat the Soviet Union’s ‘Big Red Machine’ 4-3 in a match at the 1980 Winter Olympics which was to be dubbed the ‘Miracle on Ice’.


Goran Ivanisevic was world number 125 at the time he entered Wimbledon in 2001, seemingly a pale imitation of his former self.

But the Croatian wild-card had a memorable tournament, defying all odds and culminating in a highly emotional and popular five-set final win over the previous year’s runner-up Patrick Rafter.


Greece arrived at Euro 2004 in Portugal as unheralded 150/1 outsiders but kicked off with a surprise defeat of the hosts which set the tone for the whole tournament.

With Germany, Italy and Spain failing to get past the group stage, Otto Rehhagel’s side upset defending champions France in the quarter-finals, edged out Czech Republic in the semis and stunned Portugal again in the final, keeping clean sheets in all of their knockout matches.

Rugby Union

South Africa were among the favourites to claim outright success at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England but suffered their first loss to a Tier 2 nation in the opening round of group-stage fixtures.

In a thrilling contest which swung one way and then the other, Japan prevailed 34-32 under the leadership of Eddie Jones.

A film titled The Brighton Miracle was made about the match, which remains one of the biggest sporting upsets.


Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien hit the fastest hundred in World Cup history to set up a three-wicket win over England in Bangalore in 2011, coming to the wicket with his team 111 for five in pursuit of a total of 328 and making 113 from 63 balls.

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Tony Kelshaw