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John McEnroe (1959)

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  Summary  

John Patrick McEnroe, Jr. is a former world no. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. During his career, he won seven Grand Slam singles titles , 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 these two events, a record he shares with Ivan Lendl. In addition he won 19 Championship Series top tier events of the Grand Prix Tour that were the precursors to the current Masters 1000.

He is best remembered for his shot-making artistry and superb volleying; for his famous rivalries with Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl; for his confrontational on-court behavior which frequently landed him in trouble with umpires and tennis authorities; and for the catchphrase "You cannot be serious!" directed toward an umpire during a match at Wimbledon in 1981. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999, and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

McEnroe is the older brother of Patrick McEnroe, who is also a former professional tennis player and the former Captain of the United States Davis Cup team, a position in which John served previously. They also both are now often commentators for Grand Slam tennis television coverage in the United States, and John McEnroe is also a commentator on Wimbledon for the BBC.

  Biography  

 early life
McEnroe was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany, to Kay (née Tresham) and John Patrick McEnroe, Sr. His father, who is of Irish descent, was at the time stationed with the United States Air Force. In 1960, the family moved to the New York City area, where McEnroe's father worked daytime as an advertising agent while attending Fordham Law School by night. He has two younger brothers: Mark , and former professional tennis player Patrick .

McEnroe grew up in Douglaston, Queens. He started playing tennis when he was eight years old at the nearby Douglaston Club with his brothers. When he was nine, his parents enrolled him in the Eastern Lawn Tennis Association, and he soon started playing regional tournaments. He then began competing in national juniors tournaments, and at twelve—when he was ranked seven in his age group—he joined the Port Washington Tennis Academy, Long Island, New York. McEnroe attended Trinity School and graduated in 1977.

 career
As an 18-year-old amateur in 1977, McEnroe won the mixed doubles at the French Open with Mary Carillo, and then made it through the qualifying tournament and into the main draw at Wimbledon, where he lost in the semifinals to Jimmy Connors in four sets. It was the best performance by a qualifier at a Grand Slam tournament and a record performance by an amateur in the open era.

After Wimbledon in 1977, McEnroe entered Stanford University and won the National Collegiate Athletic Association singles and team titles in 1978. Later in 1978, he joined the ATP tour and signed his first professional endorsement deal, with Sergio Tacchini. He won five titles that year, including his first Masters Grand Prix , beating Arthur Ashe in straight sets.

In 1979, McEnroe won his first Grand Slam singles title at the US Open. He defeated his good friend Vitas Gerulaitis in straight sets in the final to become the youngest male winner of the singles title at the US Open since Pancho Gonzales, who was also 20 in 1948. He also won the prestigious season-ending WCT Finals, beating Björn Borg in four sets. McEnroe won 10 singles and 17 doubles titles that year (for a total of 27 titles, which marked an open-era record).

At Wimbledon, McEnroe reached the 1980 Wimbledon Men's Singles final—his first final at Wimbledon—where he faced Björn Borg, who was gunning for his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title. At the start of the final, McEnroe was booed by the crowd as he entered Centre Court following heated exchanges with officials during his semifinal victory over Jimmy Connors. In a fourth-set tiebreaker that lasted 20 minutes, McEnroe saved five match points and eventually won 18–16. McEnroe, however, could not break Borg's serve in the fifth set, which the Swede won 8–6. This match was called the best Wimbledon final by ESPN's countdown show "Who's Number One?"
McEnroe exacted revenge two months later, beating Borg in the five-set final of the 1980 US Open.

McEnroe 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. He also made famous the phrase "you cannot be serious", which years later would become the title of McEnroe's autobiography, by shouting it after several umpires' calls during his matches. This behavior was in sharp contrast to that of Borg, who was painted by the tabloid press as an unflappable "ice man." Nevertheless, in matches played between the two, McEnroe never lost his temper.

However, despite the controversy and merciless criticism from the British press (Ian Barnes of the Daily Express nicknamed him "SuperBrat"), McEnroe again made the Wimbledon men's singles final against Borg. This time, McEnroe prevailed in four sets to end the Swede's run of 41 consecutive match victories at the All England Club. TV commentator Bud Collins quipped after the Independence Day battle, paraphrasing "Yankee Doodle", "Stick a feather in his cap and call it 'McEnroe-ni'!".

The controversy, however, did not end there. In response to McEnroe's on-court outbursts during the Championships, the All England Club did not accord McEnroe honorary club membership, an honor normally given to singles champions after their first victory. McEnroe responded by not attending the traditional champions' dinner that evening. He told the press: "I wanted to spend the evening with my family and friends and the people who had supported me, not a bunch of stiffs who are 70–80 years old, telling you that you're acting like a jerk." The honor was eventually accorded to McEnroe after he won the championship again.

Borg and McEnroe had their final confrontation in the final of the 1981 US Open. McEnroe won in four sets, becoming the first male player since the 1920s to win three consecutive US Open singles titles. Borg never played another Grand Slam event. McEnroe also won his second WCT Final, beating Johan Kriek in straight sets.

McEnroe lost to Jimmy Connors in the 1982 Wimbledon final. McEnroe lost only one set going into the final; however, Connors won the fourth-set tiebreak and the fifth set.

In 1983, McEnroe reached his fourth consecutive Wimbledon final, dropping only one set throughout the tournament (to Florin Segărceanu) and sweeping aside the unheralded New Zealander Chris Lewis in straight-sets. He also played at the Australian Open for the first time, making it to the semifinals, before being defeated in four sets by Mats Wilander. He made the WCT Final for the third time and beat Ivan Lendl in an epic five setter. He took the Masters Grand Prix title for the second time, again beating Lendl in straight sets.

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.

In the 1984 Wimbledon final, McEnroe played a virtually flawless match to defeat Connors in just 80 minutes, 6–1, 6–1, 6–2. That was McEnroe's third and final Wimbledon singles title. Again McEnroe had won Wimbledon while dropping just one set throughout the entire tournament, this time to Paul McNamee.

McEnroe won his fourth US Open title in 1984 by defeating Lendl in straight sets in the final, after defeating Connors in a five-set semifinal.

He won his fourth WCT Final, defeating Connors in five sets, and took his third Masters Grand Prix, beating Ivan Lendl in straight sets.

1984 was McEnroe's best year on the tennis tour, as he compiled an 82–3 record and won a career-high 13 singles tournaments, including Wimbledon and the US Open. He also was on the winning US World Team Cup and runner-up Davis Cup teams. The only male who has come close to matching McEnroe's 1984 win-loss record since then was Roger Federer in 2005. Federer was 81–3 before losing his last match of the year to David Nalbandian in five sets.

McEnroe's 1984 season did not end without controversy. While playing and winning the tournament in Stockholm, McEnroe had an on-court outburst that became notorious in sports highlight reels. After questioning a call made by the chair umpire, McEnroe demanded, "Answer the question, jerk!" McEnroe then slammed his racquet into a juice cart beside the court. He was suspended for 21 days for exceeding a $7,500 limit on fines that had been created because of his behavior.

In 1985, McEnroe reached his last Grand Slam singles final at the US Open. This time, he was beaten in straight sets by Lendl.

 Taking time out
By 1986, the pressures of playing at the top had become too much for McEnroe to handle, and he took a six-month break from the tour. It was during this sabbatical that on August 1, 1986, he married actress Tatum O'Neal, with whom he had already had a son, Kevin . They had two more children, Sean and Emily , before divorcing in 1994. When he returned to the tour later in 1986, he won three ATP tournaments, but in 1987 he failed to win a title for the first time since turning pro. He took a seven-month break from the game following the US Open, where he was suspended for two months and fined US$17,500 for misconduct and verbal abuse.

 Style of play
A left hander, McEnroe played a Continental forehand, which by the 1980s had almost completely disappeared from the professional tour due to the high level of touch needed to master this shot, especially in on-the-run situations. His backhand was similarly Continental and one-handed. His serve was unique in tennis. McEnroe would stand at least a meter from the center of the court with his back almost entirely to his opponent, thereby frustrating attempts at guessing whether he would pull the serve wide or jam his opponent. Few, including Pete Sampras, have managed to generate the extreme slice which sent his serve skidding low and wide. McEnroe was not known for a power game, but rather for his serve and volley mastery, a style of play that faded in the 2000s with the advent of rackets that enhanced the return of serve above the serve and made approaches to the net following a serve problematic for all but the finest exponents of the craft. He possesses an excellent net game, in which he can redirect powerful shots from his opponents to the open court or use his finesse to execute drop-volleys.

 World No. 1 ranking
According to the Association of Tennis Professionals, McEnroe became the top-ranked singles player in the world on March 3, 1980. He was the top ranked player on 14 separate occasions between 1980 and 1985 and finished the year ranked World No. 1 four straight years from 1981 through 1984. He spent a total of 170 weeks at the top of the rankings.

 Success in doubles
McEnroe has been called "the greatest doubles player of all time" and "possibly the greatest team player never to have played a team sport." He was ranked the World No. 1 in doubles for 270 weeks. He formed a powerful partnership with Peter Fleming, with whom he won 57 men's doubles titles, including four at Wimbledon and three at the US Open. (Fleming was always very modest about his own contribution to the partnership – he once said "the best doubles partnership in the world is McEnroe and anybody.") McEnroe won a fourth US Open men's doubles title in 1989 with Mark Woodforde, and a fifth Wimbledon men's doubles title in 1992 with Michael Stich. He also won the 1977 French Open mixed doubles title with childhood friend Mary Carillo.

 Davis Cup
More than any other player in his era, McEnroe was responsible for reviving U.S. interest in the Davis Cup, which had been shunned by Jimmy Connors and other leading U.S. players, and had not seen a top U.S. player regularly compete since Arthur Ashe (Connors' refusal to play Davis Cup in lieu of lucrative exhibitions became a source of enmity between him and Ashe). In 1978, McEnroe won two singles rubbers in the final as the U.S. captured the cup for the first time since 1972, beating the United Kingdom in the final. McEnroe continued to be a mainstay of U.S. Davis Cup teams for the next 14 years and was part of U.S. winning teams in 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1992. He set numerous U.S. Davis Cup records, including years played , ties , singles wins , and total wins in singles and doubles . He played both singles and doubles in 13 series, and he and Peter Fleming won 14 of 15 Davis Cup doubles matches together.

An epic performance was McEnroe's 6-hour, 22-minute victory over Mats Wilander in the deciding rubber of the 3–2 quarterfinal win over Sweden in 1982, played in St. Louis, Missouri. McEnroe won the match, at the time the longest in Davis Cup history, 9–7, 6–2, 15–17, 3–6, 8–6.

McEnroe nearly broke that record in a 6-hour, 20-minute loss to Boris Becker five years later. Becker won their match, the second rubber in a 3–2 loss to West Germany in World Group Relegation play, 4–6, 15–13, 8–10, 6–2, 6–2.

McEnroe also helped the U.S. win the World Team Cup in 1984 and 1985.

 Final years on the tour
McEnroe struggled to regain his form after his 1986 sabbatical. He lost three times in Grand Slam tournaments to Ivan Lendl, losing straight-set quarterfinals at both the 1987 US Open and the 1989 Australian Open and a long four-set match, played over two days, in the fourth round of the 1988 French Open. Rumors of drug abuse had begun during his second sabbatical. McEnroe denied them at the time, but acknowledged that he had used cocaine during his career in a 2000 interview that implied that the use occurred during this period, although he denied that the drug affected his play.

Nevertheless McEnroe had multiple notable victories in the final years of his career. In the 1988 French Open, McEnroe crushed 16-year old Michael Chang 6–0, 6–3, 6–1 in the third round; Chang would go on to win the title the next year. In 1989, McEnroe won a record fifth title at the World Championship Tennis Finals , defeating top-ranked Lendl in the semifinals. At Wimbledon, he defeated Mats Wilander in a four-set quarterfinal before losing to Stefan Edberg in a semifinal. He won the RCA Championships in Indianapolis and reached the final of the Canadian Open, where he lost to Lendl. He also won both of his singles rubbers in the quarterfinal Davis Cup tie with Sweden.

Controversy was never far from McEnroe, however; in his fourth round match against Mikael Pernfors at the 1990 Australian Open, McEnroe was ejected from the tournament for swearing at the umpire, supervisor, and referee. He was warned by the umpire for intimidating a lineswoman, and then docked a point for smashing a racket. McEnroe was apparently unaware that a new Code of Conduct, which had been introduced just before the tournament, meant that a third code violation would not lead to the deduction of a game but instead would result in immediate disqualification; therefore, when McEnroe unleashed a volley of abuse at umpire Gerry Armstrong, he was defaulted. He was fined $65,000 for the incidents.

Later that year, McEnroe reached the semifinals of the US Open, losing to the eventual champion, Pete Sampras in four sets. He also won the Davidoff Swiss Indoors in Basel, defeating Goran Ivanišević in a five-set final. The last time McEnroe was ranked in the world top ten was on October 22, 1990, when he was ranked 9th. His end-of-year singles ranking was 13th.

In 1991, McEnroe won the last edition of the Volvo Tennis-Chicago tournament by defeating his brother Patrick in the final. He won both of his singles rubbers in the quarterfinal Davis Cup tie with Spain. And he reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and the third round at the US Open (losing to Chang in a five-set night match). His end-of-year singles ranking was 28th in the world.

In 1992, McEnroe defeated third-ranked and defending champion Boris Becker in the third round of the Australian Open 6–4, 6–3, 7–5 before a sell-out crowd. In the fourth round, McEnroe needed 4 hours 42 minutes to defeat ninth ranked Emilio Sánchez 8–6 in the fifth set. He lost to Wayne Ferreira in the quarterfinals. At Wimbledon, McEnroe reached the semifinals where he lost in straight sets to the eventual champion Andre Agassi. McEnroe teamed with Michael Stich to win his fifth Wimbledon men's doubles title in a record-length 5 hour 1 minute final, which the pair won 5–7, 7–6, 3–6, 7–6, 19–17. At the end of the year, he teamed with Sampras to win the doubles rubber in the Davis Cup final, where the U.S. defeated Switzerland 3–1.

McEnroe retired from the professional tour at the end of 1992. He ended his singles career ranked 20th in the world.

 After retirement from the tour
McEnroe separated from O'Neal in 1992, and divorced in 1994. He married musician Patty Smyth in April 1997, with whom he has two daughters, Anna and Ava , and one stepdaughter, Ruby from Smyth's previous marriage to rock star Richard Hell.

McEnroe met Smyth while pursuing his post-tour goal of becoming a rock star. He had learned to play guitar with the help of friends like Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton. During his divorce, McEnroe formed The Johnny Smyth Band with himself as lead singer and guitarist, began writing songs, and played small gigs in cities where he played with the senior tour. Although Lars Ulrich complimented his "natural instinct for music", a bar owner where McEnroe's band played said that "he couldn't sing to save his life." The band toured for two years, but McEnroe suddenly quit in 1997 just before finishing his first album.

McEnroe was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999. He now works as a sports commentator in tennis and has regularly appeared in US national telecasts of Grand Slam tennis matches on such networks as CBS, NBC, USA, and ESPN, as has his brother Patrick. He also commentates on Wimbledon for the BBC in the UK.

McEnroe became the U.S. Davis Cup captain in September 1999. His team barely escaped defeat in their first two outings in 2000, beating Zimbabwe and the Czech Republic in tight 3–2 encounters. They were then defeated 5–0 by Spain in the semifinals. McEnroe resigned in November 2000 after 14 months as captain, citing frustration with the Davis Cup schedule and format as two of his primary reasons. His brother Patrick took over the job.

In July 2004, McEnroe began a CNBC talk show entitled McEnroe. The show, however, was unsuccessful, twice earning a 0.0 Nielsen rating, and was cancelled within five months. He also hosted The Chair quiz show in both the U.K. and the U.S., but this venture also was unsuccessful. In 2002, McEnroe played himself in Mr. Deeds and again in 2008 in You Don't Mess with the Zohan. McEnroe played himself in the 2004 movie Wimbledon.

McEnroe is active in philanthropy and tennis development. For years he has co-chaired the CityParks Tennis charity benefit, an annual fundraiser produced by the City Parks Foundation. The charitable event raises crucial funds for New York City's largest municipal youth tennis programs. He collects American contemporary art, and opened a gallery in Manhattan in 1993.

McEnroe still plays regularly on the ATP Champions Tour. His most recent victory came at the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy in Paris in 2010, where he defeated Guy Forget in the final. Playing on the Champions Tour allows him to continue his most iconic rivalries with old adversaries Ivan Lendl and Bjorn Borg.

He is a TV commentator at major tournaments. In charity events and World Team Tennis, he has beaten many top players, including Mardy Fish and Mark Philippoussis.

In 2007, McEnroe appeared on the NBC comedy 30 Rock as the host of a game show called "Gold Case" in which he uttered his famous line "You cannot be serious!" when a taping went awry. McEnroe also appeared on the HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In 2009, McEnroe appeared on 30 Rock again, in the episode Gavin Voloure, where Steve Martin invites him to dinner because he is of the world of "Art critique and yelling."

During the 2009 US Open, McEnroe and Serbian star Novak Djokovic shared a comic on-court moment after Djokovic's fourth-round win over Radek Štěpánek. Djokovic, known for his off-court impersonations of other star players , mimicked McEnroe's pre-service ritual and some of his best-known antics before motioning McEnroe to come down from the press box to join him. McEnroe loosened his shirt, grabbed a racquet, and then proceeded to mimic Djokovic's pre-serve ritual. The two then played a few points, ending with McEnroe hitting a winning cross-court volley; they then congratulated one another at the net.

 Return to the tour
McEnroe returned to the ATP Tour in 2006 to play two doubles tournaments.

In his first tournament, he teamed with Jonas Björkman to win the title at the SAP Open in San Jose. This was McEnroe's first title since capturing the Paris Indoor doubles title in November 1992 with his brother Patrick. The win meant that McEnroe had won doubles titles in four different decades and surpass Tom Okker for the second highest number of doubles titles in history .

In his second tournament, McEnroe and Björkman lost in the quarter-finals of the tournament in Stockholm.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "John McEnroe", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.