Tennis Prose



Biofile John McEnroe Interview

John McEnroe oil painting by Scoop Malinowski.

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: American sports icon and TV tennis analyst. Winner of seven Grand Slam titles.

DOB: February 16, 1959 In: Wiesbaden, Germany 
Childhood Heroes: “Joe Namath, Rod Laver, Mickey Mantle.” 
Early Tennis Memory: “Playing Tommy Buford – the tournament director’s son – in a 12 & under in Tennessee. I won 6-3, 6-2 in three and a half hours. After he started moonballing me.” 
Favorite Movies: “One Flew Over The Cuckoos’ Nest, On The Waterfront, Rebel Without A Cause.” 
Musical Tastes: “Rock, blues, guitar, Rolling Stones.” 
Pre-Match Feeling: “Be prepared. In condition. Have a number of different game plans. For me, it’s preparation to be ready to play. To be ready right at the beginning. It’s actually going back to basics. Making sure you have things in order. I used to take little cards out – very basic things. I might look at to keep my mind focused…ball toss, to keep the wrist firm on the volley.” 
First Job: “Paperboy for the local Queens paper. Don’t remember the name actually. You stumped me [smiles].” 
First Car: “Early 1970’s orange Ford Pinto. Cost me $100, sold it for $50.” 
Favorite Meal: “I’m pretty flexible actually. But I think Italian is my favorite. Pasta. But I eat everything.” 
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Wheaties. Not that I’ll be on the cover real soon or anything. I don’t know if I deserve to give to them that, but Breakfast of Champions.” 
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Cookies ‘n cream.” 

Funny Tennis Memory: “I guess playing Nastase at the U.S. Open 27 years ago (’79). Funny now, when I look back on it. It wasn’t funny at the time. Just having the referee default him and then have (the umpire) thrown out of the chair, and someone else come out. And people throwing stuff on the court and it was just complete chaos [smiles]. That’s sort of the way I liked it, so it was fun [laughs].” 
Greatest Sports Moment: “I don’t think I could pick one. It’s a combination of the obvious – Wimbledon, Davis Cup and The Open. The basics. (Your favorite wins?) Connors in ’84 at Wimbledon, I felt like it all came together, I mean he didn’t play his best, but I felt like that year and particularly that match it all came together. In ’92 a very emotional time for me at Davis Cup final when we played Switzerland, (I was) in the process of going through my separation and subsequent divorce from my first wife, very difficult emotionally for me to even be there, but probably to me is the greatest team ever assembled: Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and myself. Pete and I played doubles, and we were down two sets to love, and I try to rally Pete to get him going so something good could happen. And it did, and we turned it around and ended up winning in five sets. Pete, he may not admit this, but he hugged me and he told me he loved me [smiles].” 
Most Painful Moment: “Losing the French in ’84. That definitely was. I was totally outplaying Lendl on clay. Up two sets to love. And I let my emotions slip away from me. Cost me the match (6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 5-7, 5-7 – Lendl’s first major). It turned around his career. He won six or seven (actually eight) majors. What I did was make someone I basically despised, a great champion.” 
Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Anybody. One is Agassi – for many reasons. I always enjoy watching Andre play. The intensity of Nadal. The talent of Federer – I think he’s ready to go on and become the greatest player in the history of the game. I like the quality of the show. The intensity of Lleyton Hewitt – he reminds me of Jimmy Connors. Andy Roddick – he has a personality. He enjoys being out there. The key – to me – it’s the energy of the crowd. And how into it the players are. Because a lot of guys can play. The key is to bring something extra to the match. And so I’ll give you a lot of guys who can fill the bill. But you’ve got to fill it. Not enough people are doing that – to make a lot of exciting matches. That separates the people that people want to see and the people that are just good tennis players.” 

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “Playing the Stockholm Open, semifinal against Anders Jarryd. Late in the third set, there was a line call that didn’t look so great. I went ballistic. Called the umpire a jerk. Whacked a ball into the stands. Then smacked a soda can with my racquet, and got soda all over the King of Sweden who was sitting in the front row.” 
People Qualities Most Admired: “In general, people – it’s not easy to go out there and give 100%. And run the risk of losing. I respect that the most in athletes. The guys that go out there and play hard. They don’t give up on it. You can’t be a loser if you go out there and give it your best. You’re a winner if you go out and do that. Most people can’t do that, shockingly enough. They find ways to quit. To me, that’s the biggest quality. And the other one would be honesty. To be honest.” 

John McEnroe acrylic painting by Karin Billings.

Career Accomplishments: Won Wimbledon three times – 1981, 1983, 1984 and US Open four times – 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984; Reached ATP no. 1 ranking in March 1980; won 77 ATP singles titles and 78 ATP doubles titles.


John McEnroe Celebrity Boxing Fan Feature Interview at Boxing web site
Scoop’s book “Facing McEnroe” is available at amazon for $9.99. McEnroe opponents like Borg, Wilander, Connors, Mayotte, Lend discuss their memories of competing against John McEnroe.-

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  • catherine · May 3, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    Nothing to do with McEnroe but this was not really a surprise:

    She really had run out of options.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 3, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    Were there any medical timeouts in her recent matches? Maybe a long break is what she needs most of all now to get away from the rigors and pressures of having to win tennis matches against ferocious opponents and the irritating tennis media. How did she write that note to the public if she has her right writing hand in a cast?

  • catherine · May 4, 2023 at 12:53 am

    Perhaps she wrote it before she had the operation ?

    She knew this was on the way.

  • catherine · May 5, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Latest instagram from Emma has her greeting fans after her third operation, shovelling down junk food and raving away as though she’s still half under the anaesthetic.

    It’s going to be difficult recovery time, coming up to the biggest tournaments of the year, and just a spectator. Most players have injury repairs in the off season if they can manage it.

    Yes, Emma does need the break but she could feel a little lonely.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 5, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    Catherine, good timing for her hiatus, she needs it. She trained and had no great results but that one win a few weeks ago. She’s not ready confidence wise for Roland Garros or the pressure cooker of Wimbledon. At this point it’s a crossroads. You would think she can win more majors because she knows how to. But also, all the losses have crushed her self belief. To blame the struggles on injuries may not be being honest with herself. Because when she decides to resume competing again, if she continues to lose and lose and lose again, she may not be able to deny the truth anymore.

  • catherine · May 6, 2023 at 1:27 am

    Another one is finding it all a bit too much. Is this becoming a trend ? The WTA should be asking questions.

    Of course plenty of men step back from the game but they don’t seem to attract the same attention. I think men tend to bame injuries rather than their ‘mental health’.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 6, 2023 at 7:44 am

    Catherine, wonder if Nike has to keep paying AA all those millions, think it was a $30m contract. Tennis has changed, now when players lose repeatedly they don’t dig down deep, they blame it on mental health woes. It’s like a weakening of the human spirit. What happened to, the great Billy Ocean 80s hit, “When the going gets tough the tough get going”?

  • Sam · May 6, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    What happened to, the great Billy Ocean 80s hit, “When the going gets tough the tough get going”?

    Speaking of which, what actually happened to Ocean himself?? 😂

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 6, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Good question, Billy Ocean gets zero respect by music media. It’s like he never existed, madonna prince mike jackson rolling stones get all the hype.



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