“The Umpire Strikes Back”
“I think it’s the mark of a great player to be confident in tough situations”. John McEnroe
John Patrick McEnroe, Jr. (born February 16, 1959) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles (three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open), nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title.
McEnroe also won a record eight season ending championships, comprising five WCT Finals titles and three Masters Grand Prix titles from twelve final appearances at those two events, a record he shares with Ivan Lendl. During his career, McEnroe won 77 ATP-listed singles titles and 71 in doubles.
“What is the single most important quality in a tennis champion? I would have to say desire, staying in there and winning matches when you are not playing that well”. John McEnroe
McEnroe is known for his shot-making artistry and volleying skills; for his rivalries with Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl; and for his confrontational on-court behavior which frequently landed him in trouble with umpires and tennis authorities
He remained controversial when he returned to Wimbledon in 1981. Following his first-round match against Tom Gullikson, McEnroe was fined U.S. $1,500 and came close to being thrown out after he called umpire Ted James “the pits of the world” and then swore at tournament referee Fred Hoyles.
“You are the pits of the world! Vultures! Trash!” John McEnroe – To the umpire, spectators and reporters at Wimbledon
At the 1984 French Open, McEnroe lost a close final match to Ivan Lendl. McEnroe was on the verge of beating Lendl after winning the first two sets, but Lendl’s decision to use more topspin lobs and cross-court backhand passing shots, as well as fatigue and temperamental outbursts, got the better of McEnroe, allowing Lendl to win a dramatic five-setter. The loss ended a 42-match winning streak since the start of the season and was the closest McEnroe ever came to winning the French Open. In his autobiography, McEnroe described this loss as his bitterest defeat and conveyed the impression that this was a shadow on his career that could never be chased off.
“I put in the book for example that we should go back to wood rackets, probably they laughed at me, I’m a dinosaur, but I think that you see these great players, have even more variety and you see more strategy, there’d be more subtlety”. John McEnroe
“This taught me a lesson, but I’m not sure what it is.” John McEnroe – On losing to Tim Mayotte in the Ebel US Pro Indoor Championships, NY Times (February 9, 1987)
“The important thing is to learn a lesson every time you lose. Life is a learning process and you have to try to learn what’s best for you. Let me tell you, life is not fun when you’re banging your head against a brick wall all the time”. John McEnroe
In 1982, British impressionist Roger Kitter made a record called “Chalk Dust: The Umpire Strikes Back” in which he parodied McEnroe losing his temper during a match. Kitter made the record as “The Brat” and it reached the UK Top 20.
He took part in Rock Aid Armenia campaign by playing guitar in the remake of the Led Zeppelin classic “Rock and Roll”. Released in 1991, this featured Roger Daltrey from The Who on lead vocals, Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden on bass and drums and Pat Cash and Andy Barnett in addition to McEnroe on guitar.
Carlos Santana, John McEnroe, Forest Hills, NY 1982 | Lynn Goldsmith
John, Steven Tyler & Vitas
“You cannot be serious!” John McEnroe
Vilas, Borg & McEnroe