JOHN McENROE’S rivalry with Bjorn Borg was so fierce it was turned into a blockbuster movie.
The film – Borg vs McEnroe – saw Shia LaBeouf play the American as they look back at their epic rivalry. Read on to find out more about the retired tennis ace…
One of Wimbledon’s most controversial and loved characters, John McEnroe[/caption]
Who is John McEnroe?
McEnroe, 60, was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, to American parents on February 16, 1959.
His family moved to the New York City area when he was one-years-old.
McEnroe playing tennis aged eight, and a year later, his parents enrolled him in the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association.
He then started playing regional and national junior’s tournaments, and at twelve he was ranked No7 in his age group.
He then joined the Port Washington Tennis Academy, which was the driving force for the start of his illustrious career.
One of the best American players ever, McEnroe won seven Grand Slam singles titles and nine doubles titles, before a successful transition into the commentary box for the BBC.
The ace became renowned for his outbursts on the court, as well as his forthright opinions as a pundit.
The American is famous for his outbursts and arguments with umpires and fans[/caption]
What started John McEnroe’s rivalry with Bjorn Borg?
Sweden’s Bjorn Borg and McEnroe were often seen as polar opposites in terms of on-court personality, so they were often called Fire and Ice.
Borg always remained calm and focused while his fiery US rival became renowned for his tantrums and tirades at umpires.
They played against each other 22 times, with both winning 11 matches each.
Borg became renowned for his athleticism, devotion, agility and endurance during play, winning title matches at the age of 18.
He became the first man in the Open Era to win 11 Grand Slams, including five consecutive Wimbledon competitions.
McEnroe’s career grew at a slower pace, later becoming one of the greatest tennis players before his retirement in 1994.
But in what was Borg’s fifth Wimbledon Men’s Final title win in July 1980, he battled McEnroe in what some describe as the best final ever played.
The fourth-set tie-break lasted an astonishing 20 minutes.
The near four-hour marathon was eventually won by the ice-cool Swede 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 (16-18) 8-6 for his fifth and final title at the All England Club.
Who is John McEnroe’s wife?
John McEnroe was first married to Tatum O’Neal, Academy Award-winning actress and daughter of Ryan O’Neal.
The pair, married from 1986 to 1994, had three children, Kevin, Sean and Emily.
They were initially awarded joint custody, but in 1998, McEnroe was awarded sole custody due to O’Neal’s drug problems.
McEnroe is now married to Patty Smyth, a rock star with whom he has two daughters, Anna and Ava.
He also has a step-daughter, Ruby.
What’s the Martina Navratilova pay row?
Former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova, 61, is seen by many as one of the greatest female players of all time.
Navratilova, who is a seven-time Grand Slam winner, started playing tennis at the age of seven.
But the tennis legend slammed the BBC in March 2018, claiming the broadcaster paid her “at least ten times less” than fellow Wimbledon pundit McEnroe.
McEnroe’s pay packet, of £150,000 to £199,999, was revealed in a list of the BBC’s top-paid talent last summer.
Speaking on BBC Panorama, Navratilova said: “Overall it was a shock because John McEnroe makes at least £150k.
“I get about £15,000 for Wimbledon and unless John McEnroe’s doing a whole bunch of stuff outside of Wimbledon he’s getting at least ten times as much money.”
Navratilova said her agent will ask for more money in future.
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What did he win in his career?
McEnroe’s first taste of success came when he won the mixed doubles at the French Open with Mary Carrillo aged just 18.
McEnroe’s stunning career saw him win 77 singles and 78 doubles titles.
At age 21, McEnroe reached world No1 for the first time.
From 1981-84 McEnroe maintained his No1 status, establishing himself as one of the greats.
He is a three-time winner at Wimbledon, out of five finals, and four-time winner at the US open – which included three consecutive wins from 1979-82.
The seven Grand Slams is the joint-13th highest all-time for men in the singles, while his nine titles in the doubles is sixth.
McEnroe’s win percentage comes to a staggering 81.5 per cent in singles and 83.7p per cent in doubles.
What was his playing style?
The left-handed McEnroe was known for his shot-making, improvisation and superior skills at the net.
Although he wasn’t the biggest server, his unique motion allowed him to disguise where he hit the ball.
He was also known for having cat-like reflexes.
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So, what are his controversies?
McEnroe always had a fiery temper and would often get into rows with umpires and officials.
- His most famous controversy came in 1981. After a foul call, an enraged McEnroe continued to scream “you cannot be serious” at the umpire. He was fined $10,000 for his string of outbursts that day which included screaming at the officials, swearing on court, and breaking his racket. The saying has become a part of pop culture and was also the title of his autobiography.
- In the Swedish Open in 1984 McEnroe again screamed at an official, managed to hit a ball at someone and smashed a tray of drinks that shattered glass over the court.
- In 1986 he was stripped of honorary membership from Queen’s Club after swearing at the wife of the then-club chairman. He eventually apologised and returned in 1992.
- The same year he decided to take a six month sabbatical from the sport – unprecedented at the time – because of the stress and pressure.
- In 1990 he was kicked out of the Australian Open for telling a supervisor to “go f*** your mother”.
- In June 2017 he was embroiled in a row with Serena Williams after claiming that Williams – the most dominant women’s player ever – would “be like 700 in the world” if she played with men. McEnroe has so far refused to apologise