Many tennis superstars come and go throughout history, winning many titles and exciting many fans along the way. One of the most memorable and exciting players that ever played the game of tennis is the one and only John McEnroe, who has won countless titles and infuriated countless line judges as well.
Born in 1959 in West Germany due to his father’s Air Force stationing, McEnroe and his family soon moved to the New York City area. He grew up in Queens, New York and would begin playing tennis at the tender age of eight, displaying his natural talent at even this young age. He joined different tennis leagues and began competing in tennis tournaments wherever he could find them.
An early career highlight for McEnroe came when he was just 18 years old at the French Open, one of tennis’ premier events. At this tourney he won the mixed doubles while being paired with Mary Carillo. Right after this, McEnroe made it through into the main draw at the prestigious Wimbledon and only lost to veteran tennis player Jimmy Conners in the semifinals. This is the best performance by a qualifying player at a Grand Slam tournament.
John McEnroe was set to made a massive impact in the world of tennis right from the start of his career, even as an amateur.
McEnroe’s collegiate career took off just as fast in 1977 when he entered Stanford University. The next year he won the NCAA singles and team titles and that same year in 1978 he got his first professional endorsement deal with Sergio Tacchini. He soon won five titles, including his first Master Grand Prix.
In 1979, at the tender age of 20, McEnroe won his first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, becoming the youngest male winner title winner since Pancho Gonzanles won in 1948 also 20 years old. McEnroe looked unstoppable and even at this young age, his passion for tennis and winning was obvious to anyone. He played with intensity rarely seen in the sport before or since.
He won a whopping twenty seven titles that year, which set a record for the open-era in tennis. The prodigy had made his stamp upon the world of tennis and he would not stop there. At Wimbledon in 1980, McEnroe faced an ugly crowd when he reached the finals against Bjorn Borg, who was coming off four consecutive titles at that tournament. McEnroe would lose the match eventually but not before it was deemed one of the best Wimbledon finals the long running tourney had ever had in its history.
He would get revenge against the Swede Borg two months later at the US Open, where their final match lasted five sets. The home crowd welcomed him with open arms and cheers. He was already known for his arguments with officials at this point but there was no denying his entertainment value and his great talent at the sport of tennis. He would not change for anyone.
His tantrums are world famous and his oft repeated line, “you cannot be serious” would later become the title to his autobiography. In the next Wimbledon final against Borg in 1981, McEnroe was continually hounded and called names like superbrat by the British press but would defeat his rival in four sets, ending Borg’s dominating run of titles and match victories.
Another rival was with Jimmy Connors, whom McEnroe respected and lost to on occasion. Their rivalry extended into the 1980’s at various tournaments, most of which were won by McEnroe. In the 1984 Wimbledon final, McEnroe completed his third title against Connors. In this same tourney, McEnroe lost just one set the entire competition, a very difficult feat given the high caliber of players there.
Love him or hate him, the controversial John McEnroe has made a tremendous impact on the sport of tennis and still competes to this day, playing and winning many masters tournaments.