John McEnroe is a retired American tennis professional who is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. Known for his artistic style of play and his deft volleys, McEnroe was a true genius of the game.
The American is, however, almost as famous for his tennis as his temper. He frequently got into arguments with umpires and threw more than his fair share of tantrums on the court, which earned him the nickname 'Superbrat'.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: Semifinalist (1983)
French Open: Runner-up (1984)
Wimbledon: 3-time Champion (1981, 1983, 1984)
US Open: 4-time Champion (1979, 1980, 1981, 1984)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
No. of weeks at No. 1: 170
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
McEnroe was an all-court player, who could play with ease from any part of the court. He had an attack-centric game, and focused more on hitting winners than avoiding unforced errors.
McEnroe could hit with power from the baseline, but used his groundstrokes primarily as approach shots. His net game was what set him apart from all other players, and he used every opportunity he could get to approach the net.
The American had incredible reflexes and anticipation, which he used to great effect while taking the ball out of the air. He also used his athleticism very well to reach wide balls and stab them back into the court. McEnroe is arguably the greatest net player in the history of tennis.
McEnroe's serve was also an important weapon in his arsenal, and his unusual action helped him disguise its direction effectively. He would often employ the serve-and-volley strategy, coming into the net behind a well-placed serve.
McEnroe had solid groundstrokes off both wings, and could also defend well when needed. However, his main strengths remained his offense and net game right till the end of his career.
Significant John McEnroe records
McEnroe played in a very competitive era, but still managed to compile a career good enough to warrant a mention in the Greatest of All Time conversation. Here is a list of his most significant records:
- Most titles won in a career: 156 (77 in singles, 78 in doubles and 1 in mixed doubles)
- Highest single-season winning percentage: 96.47%, in the year 1984 (82-3 record)
- Most titles won in a single season: 27, in the year 1979 (10 in singles and 17 in doubles)
- Most year-end championships won: 8 (5 at the World Championship Tennis and 3 at the Masters Grand Prix)
- Highest winning percentage on carpet: 84.18% (411-65 record)
McEnroe was born in Wiesbaden; his father was a part of the US Air Force, which is why he had been stationed in Germany at that time. A year after that the family moved to New York City, where McEnroe has spent the majority of his life.
He started playing tennis at the age of eight, and won his first Grand Slam at the age of 18 - the mixed doubles French Open title with Mary Carillo.
McEnroe married actress Tatum O'Neal in 1986, and had three children with her. They got divorced in 1994, and three years after that McEnroe married current wife Patty Smyth, with whom he has two daughters.
McEnroe will be remembered for a lot of things, not least of which is the artistry he displayed on the court. Often called the most talented player to have ever set foot on a tennis court, McEnroe could regale spectators everywhere with his magical touch at the net.
The American's rivalry with fellow GOAT candidate Bjorn Borg is the stuff of legend. Their classic Wimbledon 1980 final, where McEnroe saved five match points before succumbing 8-6 in the fifth set, is widely considered one of the two greatest tennis matches of all time, and is the inspiration for an entire movie (titled "Borg vs McEnroe").
In addition to Borg, McEnroe also compiled epic rivalries against Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl. The match he lost to Lendl at the 1984 French Open was of particular significance, as it was the only blip in an otherwise near-flawless year for the American (he lost just three matches that year).
McEnroe was wildly successful in doubles, creating a memorable partnership with Peter Fleming and winning 9 doubles Grand Slams in total. He was also a decorated national representative, winning the Davis Cup five times for the USA.
Just as compelling as McEnroe's racquet-work and tennis success was his fiery demeanor on the court. McEnroe made it a habit of getting into verbal spats with umpires, repeatedly arguing with them over line calls. His catchphrase "You cannot be serious", which he used when he disagreed with an umpire's call, became famous all over the world, as did his "You're the pits of the world" rant against Ted James at Wimbledon.
While the American often got away with his outbursts owing to the relatively relaxed rules at the time, he was sometimes fined and occasionally even suspended when he went too far. His nickname "Superbrat" did full justice to his behavior, and his temper attracted both positive and negative reactions from fans across the world.
McEnroe is now a well-respected TV commentator, and occasionally competes on the senior tour. He has had a cult following throughout his celebrated career, and continues to be an enigmatic presence even after retirement.