John McEnroe quotes
Born on February 16, 1959, in Wiesbaden, Germany, John Patrick McEnroe was the oldest of three sons. He was
raised in Queens, New York and at an early age he showed eye-hand coordination and athletic ability that was
unusual at his age. After he graduated high school in 1977, several pivotal events took place in his tennis career,
including an opportunity to play in Europe where he won the French Juniors Tournament. He wound up becoming the
youngest player to ever reach the Wimbledon semi-finals and solidified his tennis "bad boy" reputation, due to his
emotional and disturbing outbursts directed at opponents, linesmen and himself. His playing style matured in 1979
after some decisive victories over both Borg and Connors. As the public became more aware of his talent, they also
came to know of his striking personality. At Wimbledon his disruptive actions and comments stood out the most, and
it is thought that these disruptions were actually beneficial to McEnroe. In 1980, one of the most famous rivalries
in tennis started between McEnroe and a Swede player, named Bjorn Borg. In 1985, after winning a total of seven
Grand Slam titles in singles and seven in doubles, plus being number one in ATP year-end rankings from 1981-1984,
McEnroe started to slowly fade away. He did win eight singles titles that year; however none of them were Grand
Slams. Many factors could have contributed to his fall, including how casual he was in his training. It was in
early 1995 that he started to run commentary on matches with the U.S.A. coverage of the French Open. This is where
he started his current broadcasting career. He is a network television commentator for both CBS and NBC at
Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the French Open. He now plays in different select special events and tournaments,
mostly for charity.
See, part of the magic of playing tennis for a living is that it lets you act like a kid for as
as you can keep going. Now, some of you will say, and I agree, that it's good to keep that
kid in you, but every kid has to grow up sometime, or else wind up a case of arrested
That's the question interviewers always work around to asking me. How did you get that
way? And the first thing I tell them is, I'm a New Yorker. New Yorkers don't hold anything
back - sitting in traffic or just walking down the street, we lay it on the line, and we don't
whisper when we do it.
Where money and publicity meet, there's always excitement, but good behaviour is rarely a
part of the mix. Manners are the operating rules of more stable systems.
That's the funny thing about tennis points, and games: They may be awe-inspiring at the
moment, but then - except for the videotape, which really tells only a bit of the story - the
moment is gone. They're like poetry written on water.
One of the things I'm striving to come to terms with is the deep-down part of me that isn't
completely willing to give up my anger. After all, I feel certain that it's part of what drove me
to the top, and though I may not be at the top of my game anymore, that fire in my belly is
still hot. Where would I be if I let it go out? And what exactly do I need it for now?
People always ask if I had a temper when I was a kid. There's a famous story about Bjorn
Borg: When he was nine or ten years old, he lost a point and threw his racket down, and his
father wouldn't let him play for six months. He never threw his racket again. Maybe that
should've happened to me!
As I moved to the top of pro tennis, though, cockiness became a survival mechanism. I don't
care who you are, Borg or Sampras or Michael Chang - you can't exist at the top without it.
Self-confidence is a must, and so is selfishness.
Tennis, obviously, turned out ot be an incredible thing for me, an amazing roller-coaster ride,
and a lot more good came out of it than bad, but the truth is that I didn't really want to
pursue it until it just pursued me.
Over 1,000 officials to choose from and I get a moron like you.
Tennis players should be far more involved in charity work. The sport should champion a
couple of causes as a group and try to make a real difference - the kind of difference that
Andre Agassi and Andrea Jaeger have made, Andre with his school for disadvantaged kids in
Las Vegas, and Andrea with her Silver Lining Ranch for terminally ill children in Aspen,
I firmly believe that one of the hallmarks of a champion - any champion - is the ability to
absorb losses and regain confidence immediately.
In any sport, you have enemies as well as friends... sometimes, though, it's easier to have
enemies than to have friends - especially if your friends happen to be fellow professional
tennis players and you're on your way to being number one in the world. It may be a cliche
that it's lonely at the top, but just because it's a cliche doesn't mean it 's not true.
My greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses.
Bob Dylan concert in London, 1994: After the concert, I was invited backstage,
walked into a room that had five people in it: Dylan, Chrissie Hynde, George Harrison and his
son Dhani, and one guy I didn't recognize. I went up to the guy and said, "I'm John McEnroe,
who are you?" He said, "I'm Bozo the fucking clown." It turned out to be Van Morrison. I'll
never forget the first thing Dylan said to me: "I heard you can dunk a basketball, and you
play great guitar, and I know Carlos Santana wouldn't lie." It pained me to have to disillusion
him on both counts.
Princess Diana, she used to come watch the tennis at Wimbledon. And even though she had
it 1,000 times worse than I ever did, she pulled me aside a few times and said, "I really feel
I truly do wonder sometimes: Will I be totally forgotten at some point? Will I end up walking
around wishing for what I don't have anymore? People always seem to want what they can't
have, which seems a rather pathetic part of human nature to me. Will I be the guy going
around saying, "Hey, remember me?"
Becker was a big guy with a huge serve; he was deliberately intimidating. He always walked
around with his chest stuck out, like "Oh, you're lucky we didn't win World War Two."
Week by week, I was rising to new heights, and when you ascend that quickly, and at such
an early age, the oxygen doesn't always flow to your brain.
I call tennis "the lazy man's game" now. Guys rely on giant serves and huge groundstrokes,
but little thought, strategy, or passion goes into it - or so it seems. That's largely why no
one truly dominates the sport now. There's loads of talent out there - just look at players
such as Lleyton Hewitt, Gustavo Kuerten, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and Marat Safin. But does
anybody have the fire of Connors, the dedication of Lendl, or the physical presence of Borg?
Not that I'm aware of, at least not yet.
John McEnroe, 2002
In between rounds at Wimbledon in 1982, I struggled to learn David Bowie's "Suffragette City"
and "Rebel, Rebel" in my hotel flat. I heard a knock on my door. It was David Bowie. "Come up
and have a drink," he told me. "Just don't bring your guitar."
Golf is not a sport – it's an artistic exercise like ballet. You can be a fat slob and still play
It's a sad fact about tennis - and probably other sports as well - that when you lose your
confidence in your game, you lose a bit of confidence in yourself as a person. It's hard to
overcome that feeling. You always have to fight the thought, "I'm a loser; I'm not the same
person I was," when, in fact, you may very well be a better person in certain ways.
After I won the '81 U.S. Open, I was invited to the White House - and I didn't want to go! It
was on a day's notice, the meeting was set for early in the morning; it all just felt too
inconvenient. My mother said, "You've been invited to meet the President and you're thinking
of not going? You're going." I went. It was the story of my life - I always had to be pushed. I
was glad I did go, too: I had never met a President before, and I felt something very special
about Ronald Reagan. He was funny; he seemed to have a way with people; he had a
presence about him. And - having said all that - he had absolutely no clue who I was!
I saw early on that there were a lot of great advantages to winning, but there was also one
big disadvantage: Once you're on that pedestal, you're alone.
I still have my guitars, I still jam with my friends, but my gigging days are over. Yes, the
world is a safer place.
My growing confidence in the tennis world sometimes came across as cockiness, and the
tricky thing about cockiness is that, while it's an absolute survival mechanism for a
tournament tennis player, it can backfire once you get off the court. It can also impress
other people - women among them - for the wrong reasons. So, between my shyness and my
audacity, most people tended to overlook my real self.
Everybody loves success, but they hate successful people.
Despite Pat Cash's statement that the only way I would ever get into Buckingham Palace
would be by climbing the fence - on the middle Sunday of Wimbledon in 2000, I rode through
the palace gates and up to a hard court in the middle of the magnificient grounds, where
Bjorn and I proceded to play a pleasantly relaxed charity exhibition in front of a small group of
invited guests that included Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
He's a bit anal, he thinks the whole world is against him and that everyone is screwing him on
some level. He's always been like that and he always will be.
John McEnroe, on Jimmy Connors
I had enough inner strength to know I could beat anyone at all, anytime, on any surface.
There was always a devil inside me whom I had to fight. And the devil was fear of failure.