John McEnroe

By Larry Platt


Salon Staff
July 14, 2000 11:28PM (UTC)

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Thanks for the memories! I grew up during the McEnroe-Borg rivalry and would surely have missed it if McEnroe were anything like Borg in temperament. His passionate temper is more humorous to look back on and read about than it was to actually witness on TV, but he really brought a vitality to the game. Let's face it, the French do have a reputation for being pretentious and for McEnroe to yell "I hate this country" is just classic. His passion for the Davis Cup is no surprise, he's such an in-your-face American. It is only appropriate that the group House of Pain used his name when they sang, "I'll serve your ass like John McEnroe".

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-- Stacy O'Neill

Say what you will, tennis has regressed to its former stodgy and thoroughly boring past in the absence of the likes of McEnroe and Connors. How I miss those days of fiery matches. I loved the game then, but now I don't know who's who at all in tennis. McEnroe and Connors gave tennis to the people by denying the game its pretensions and class exclusions. I respect McEnroe for his let-it-all-hang-out personality.

-- Jeff Middlebrook

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What is it about male sports writers, like Larry Platt, that keeps them from mentioning women's tennis when writing about the men's game? John McEnroe's 77 singles titles in his career looks impressive (the third-place record Platt points out, poker-faced, comparing it to other men's wins), right up until one compares it to Martina Navratilova's 167 singles titles (which I gleaned from an archive article -- thanks for making sexism so easy to prove). Like the recent crowing about Pete Sampras' record-breaking Grand Slam/Wimbledon wins (also beaten by Navratilova: Poor Pete would need two more Wimbledons and a whopping five more Grand Slams to catch up with her), these statistics are journalistic half-truths if they're not compared to the women's game.

All the very best women's players, including Graf and Evert, have won enough tournaments to make the very top men's careers look like paeans to mediocrity. Are these sportswriters embarking on some new millennial trend of reverse chivalry?

-- Ren Jender

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No one has the right to verbally abuse another human being, even gifted, troubled athletes. I'll take Sampras, Koufax, Mays and Nolan Ryan any day in athletic competition at the highest level, along with their grace, character and intelligence. Maybe someday McEnroe will discover what he could have accomplished and earned a reputation of a mensch instead of a jerk. It still is not too late to change.

-- Jerry Frankel

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