Articles, Blog

John McEnroe Would Like to See More Trash Talking in Tennis

November 5, 2019

-How are you? -I am exhilarated to be here. -I thank you very much. -Right. Exhausted little bit
from the last couple weeks. But it ended with a blast. I mean, it was amazing match
in the final. And Serena got to the final. So that was good.
-It was a great U.S. Open. It’s obviously very exciting
to have tennis in New York City. You mentioned both exhilaration
and exhaustion. And I feel like that must been
what it felt like on Sunday night
with a five-hour men’s final. You were in the booth
with your brother, Patrick. -Yes.
-Do you ever — Did you feel an exhaustion
sitting in on yourself, or did you feel the excitement
of the match? -I have — If you get exhausted watching
two guys battle like that, there’s something wrong
with you. You’re a little
sick in the head. -Yeah.
-And for us, you know, the men, to go at it like that,
I mean, I’ve played matches — a couple matches longer
than that, so I get it, and I respect it. So I was having a great time. We know there’s a tie breaker in
the fifth set. So it could only go
another 20, 30 minutes. What’s another half-hour?
So it was — It ended great. -And what — Do you feel like
the energy in New York City for a match like that is
different than any other place where you have a major final
like this? -Without question. Did anyone see the final? [ Cheers and applause ] I was lucky enough to be part
of five U.S. Open finals. And that may have been one of
the loudest, if not the loudest, when this, you know, Medvedev,
this Russian guy, came back and took it
to a fifth set. So it inspires the players,
obviously. It’s absolutely incredible. We need a shot in the arm
for our sport. We — The women are doing well. [ Light applause ]
But, you know, the men, the — Thank you.
-[ Laughs ] [ Cheers and applause ] I do have four daughters
and two boys. So I — You know,
how much it means now that the playing field
is more level in women’s game in our sport
than any other sport. You know, you talked about —
I’ve heard that soccer joke. -Yeah.
-That was just — the previous —
-Yeah, yeah. -Basketball.
There’s no football. You know, they’re getting paid
1/20th, 1/50th what the men do. In tennis, exactly the same.
Equal prize money. [ Cheers and applause ]
-What — if you were — Very — Absolutely true. And it’s exactly as exciting
going into the finals. And there were two great stories
this year. You mention the men
need a shot in the arm. What do you think it is that’s lacking right now
for the men’s game? -Well, I think that our best
athletes have a tendency to play American football
and basketball, obviously. So we have — we need
to do a better job giving more kids
the opportunity to play. It’s too expensive. You know, I have a tennis
academy at Randall’s Island. I try to raise money
with the charity. Get as many kids as possible. It’s got to be
a cool factor, too. I think we had that a bit
in the ’70s and ’80s when I was playing,
not just because I was playing. -Yeah, well,
but let’s be honest, yeah. [ Laughter ] Well, one thing we were
talking about earlier today, knowing you were coming
on the show, you know, I feel like the prime
of a tennis player in the ’70s was a lot shorter
than it is now. You know, it just seems like the way health
and fitness has changed, the way even the equipment
has changed. For a shorter period of time that guys in the ’70s
were playing, you had such a huge impact
on the game. And I do feel like
there was a huge cool factor to what you were all doing.
-I think we were the doing — the problem we were doing — we were performance
detracting drugs. -Yeah, yeah, performance — Yeah, nothing you were doing
made you better at tennis. -We tried to burn a candle
at both ends. And, you know,
it works for a while. But it catches up to you
a little sooner. These guys are incredible.
They got great teams. People understand how to recover
quicker, et cetera. But that was a great time
in tennis. There was a lot of personality. You need that
in a one-on-one sport. That’s why people gravitate
toward this Medvedev guy. -Yeah.
-He embraced being the bad guy, which is something
that I sort of wish Djokovic would do
a little bit more of, play the villain.
We need a villain. I know nothing
about being a villain. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] But, you know, he — and people, the fans
got behind him at the end. -You — Of course you were —
You were literally — the fact that you were known for
a little bit of bad behavior. Was it ever — [ Laughter ]
-Just a little bit. -Was it genuinely that you were losing a temper
you couldn’t control? Or was there some
gamesmanship to it? Was it a strategy to get
in the head of your opponent by losing your temper
with, say, the judge? -Well, if all it takes to get
in the head of an opponent is you getting — telling
a judge that he sucks, okay. -Yeah. -What are the odds of the umpire
giving me the next call? I mean, if you tell this guy
he’s a bum, you know, the next — he’s going to go,
“I’ll show that McEnroe.” So, to me, that was sour grapes
if that’s all it took. -Right, right.
-With all that goes on — like, say in a football game
on Sunday, you think they’re saying, “Hello.
How are you?” on the field? Or basketball?
There’s a lot of trash-talking. We used to do more of that. I’d like to see a little bit
more in the tennis. [ Laughter ] -So there was
genuine trash talk. Of course, one of your rivals —
Bjorn Borg, there you are there. And he is genuinely
a dear friend of yours now, yes? -I love him.
Hopefully, he loves me. He’s probably —
He’s probably the only guy that I didn’t have problems with
on the court. -Oh, so you never
had an issue with him? -We never had a problem. He took me, you know,
under his wing, in a way. And I got respect
because of that. ‘Cause he was already,
like, a god. You know, he was like Federer
at the time. You know, everyone loved him. And he was this
great-looking guy. Dressed right.
The girls loved him. So I was like,
“I want to be like him.” -And he was the only guy
who was nice to you. Do you feel like that means he
was a good judge of character or just a bad judge? Was it a blind spot that he was like,
“I like this McEnroe kid”? -What do you think? [ Laughter ] -So, the first time
you go to Wimbledon, is it — Are you 17 years old? Are you — -I was 18 the first time I went.
-18 years old. -And you talked about
how guys have great teams now. And there’s — You know,
nutrition has, obviously, advanced so much.
But what was it like — The tour did not take care
of you in the same way then as it does now.
-No. -You know, it was an incredible
time in England in the ’70s. You know, punk was breaking out. People were getting on me. You know, it was like
oil and water. Me, a New York kid. I mean, you’re screaming
and yelling all the time. People are, you know — They
give you their opinion, right? Over there,
they’re much more reserved. They’re very proper. I was like, “What’s wrong
with these people?” -[ Laughs ] Yeah. -“You know, they’re so
well behaved here.” And so, you know,
we clashed right away. But I got a lot of support.
I got to say, like, if you walked down
the equivalent of, well, I don’t know what street
you can — Kings Road in London. It would be Lexington.
I don’t know. -Yeah.
-And they got a lot of support. There was, like, some
freaky people around. But they were supportive. The establishment
and the papers, which were owned
by Rupert Murdoch — You may know him —
-Yeah. -They were giving me
a very hard time. And there’s a lot more
newspapers in London than there are here. There was 15 local papers. So that makes it where
they looking to get you. -Did you —
Were you somebody that — You know, you’re 18 years old.
And you were supposed to — Your first run to, I think, the semifinals?
-Semifinals. -So that was kind of
unexpected, right? You were actually supposed to be
there to play in the juniors. You end going on
a sort of unexpected run. Were you somebody then
who would read the paper? I mean, you’re in London
having this incredible run. You’re 18 years old.
-Initially, I read it. I thought it was
the funniest thing ever. I thought,
“These people don’t get it. What’s their problem?
I’m the one out there. You know, how — Why are they
reacting this way?” But when I came home,
and everyone was like, “Hey, you the brat that —
you know, jerk that” — and I’m like, “What do you mean?
I’m the same person.” So it just — you know, actually, that completely
changed my life, you know, that first trip
to Europe and then in London. And it just got — It went on
from there for about five years till I finally won the event. -Yeah. So that’s ’81 you went — -I said, “I’m never coming back
to this Goddamn place again.” “These people
are so full of it.” [ Laughter ]
-Is this Wimbledon? Is this winning at Wimbledon?
-That’s my first Wimbledon. -There you go.
-Yeah. Yay! -Yeah, there you go. [ Cheers and applause ] -It was a long time ago.
-It was a long time ago.


  • Reply Cylume September 11, 2019 at 10:02 am


  • Reply Allen Rodgers September 11, 2019 at 10:08 am

    I cannot wait for Laver Cup, Captains are Borg and McEnroe, it has been the best TV the last two years

  • Reply New Message September 11, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I'd like to see more fistfighting in tennis. Like hockey fights. So long as they're both still standing, the ball boys don't interfere.

  • Reply Josie Fox September 11, 2019 at 10:32 am

    And in the meantime John has spent lots of time here in the UK and at Dumbledore where he is an institution beloved by Americans and Brits alike. Top bloke and very funny.

  • Reply avantgauche September 11, 2019 at 10:49 am

    I remember watching Wimbledon coverage with him when he said he could beat Williams if he played her this man is not a real supporter of women's tennis. he's an arse.

  • Reply Sahiry Gnobehi September 11, 2019 at 11:05 am

    He's more calmed then i expected him to be.😊

  • Reply Stikibits September 11, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Murdoch has been farking up the globe for so long. He can't die soon enough, I reckon.

  • Reply Naryoril September 11, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Looking at Federer's popularity the world over, i don't think you need a villain, you can be extremely popular being a nice guy.

  • Reply TCN News September 11, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    check out this amazing 11 yr old news reporter that is smarter than Donald Trump.

  • Reply xSMOKExEMxALLx September 11, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    People who play tennis are the ones who need to be trash talked!

  • Reply ResCyn September 11, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Equal prize money for less sets and the audience clap and cheer like seals…

  • Reply Chris Brown September 11, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Yeah and fighting too, just like hockey!

  • Reply S. Lee September 11, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    This guy seems like an old-school asshole. Trash talking needs to be diminished in those other sports.. the last thing you need to do is add it to tennis.

  • Reply DJ DLS September 11, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    McEnroe's Curb guesting was one of the best in the series. That book of freaks killed me lol

  • Reply Richard Morey September 11, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    I'm all for the women getting the same prize money but why do they play best of 3 instead of best of 5 like the men?

  • Reply RIKKO KO September 11, 2019 at 3:32 pm


  • Reply DJCLYPSO September 11, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    damn bro look at that chain

  • Reply B Naylor September 11, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    He looks like an extra from a 70s movie with that gold chain and open shirt. Eeeek.

  • Reply NEXUS MINDWARPED AMERICA. September 11, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    McEnroe ~ One of my hero's.
    From YORKSHIRE, England.

  • Reply NEXUS MINDWARPED AMERICA. September 11, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    TRUST ME, the UK loved John McEnroe.

  • Reply Nate Davies September 11, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Both times women's tennis is mentioned: crowd cheers and applauds
    Both Seth and John: yeah, well, Serena lost, so who cares?
    Me: just waiting for someone to acknowledge the historic women's final.
    For the record, the men's final only turned out well.
    And that's WHY women play 3 sets.
    Nadal would have won in straight sets, but no. Let's make it 5 sets for added drama.
    For reference sake, nowhere near 70% of men's tennis is 5 sets.
    It's more a play by the ATP to give extra weight to the major tournaments.
    Oh, and the women play more tennis on the course of the year.
    BUT the US Open is still 7 matches won (or 12+ for qualifiers) in order to host the championship.
    It's kinda like the PGA, but again, the 5 set matches don't happen at every tournament, just the major ones.
    For men's championship tennis, there are more big money tournaments.
    The women have more 'lesser point' events.

  • Reply Phil Migliorino September 11, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    So sad
    Another person using gods name in vein…John I pray for your salavation through the blood sacrifice of the lord jesus christ at the cross …the forgiveness of sins for you and anyone who repents and believes on jesus for their salvation and eternal life..

  • Reply Do T September 11, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    "People are so different here…"
    It's called having class, John.

  • Reply jim bob September 11, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    He is getting so old he looks like Bill O Riley.

  • Reply Gregory Ashton September 11, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Why do I get the feeling he voted for Trump?

  • Reply Daniel B September 11, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Women + doing well = applause
    Men + doing well = silence

  • Reply crocusflower September 11, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    why would you have a pos like this guy on your show? he is a spousal abusing creep.

  • Reply Volvican September 11, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Wimble DON. D, Seth.

  • Reply kalbs89 September 11, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    I hated him in the 70’s but loved every match he played. He’s still great entertainment. Thanks John

  • Reply midcenturygirl September 12, 2019 at 2:21 am

    Disco tennis villain.

  • Reply International Harvester September 12, 2019 at 2:32 am

    "You cannot be serious!"😡

  • Reply Rafal Wysocki September 12, 2019 at 2:39 am

    Johnny Mac. The coolset tennis pro ever.

  • Reply parkviewmo September 12, 2019 at 3:15 am

    I saw McEnroe play a six hour game at the old Arena in St. Louis. I also saw him play Conners in Indianapolis on clay courts. McEnroe lost his temper at one point and lost the set. Conners, meanwhile, mooned the audience and won the match! I always thought Conners used his anger to win, but McEnroe would sometimes let his anger get him beat. That was such a great era of men's tennis. Conners will always be my favorite–little guy, no way he should have been that good and what a joy to watch! Love McEnroe, too!

  • Reply D B September 12, 2019 at 3:33 am

    Typical murican! Don't admit losing to Canada! Surely you must be getting used to it?
    300,000,000 americans (hated by the world) compared to 35,000,000 Canadians! Must suck to always be the hated loser!

  • Reply CJ Dillon September 12, 2019 at 4:29 am

    The majors are the only tournaments which feature men and women. If women want to be paid the same as men, they should play 3 out of 5 set matches. Equal pay for equal work! As far as other tournaments which feature only men or women. Pay should be based on the amount of revenue the tournament generates. Tournaments generating more revenue, should pay the players more $$$.

  • Reply Grey Mouser September 12, 2019 at 4:36 am

    More trash? Ok…..How do you feel about retrospective testing John? Why not?

  • Reply Tanweer Majid September 12, 2019 at 4:36 am

    Rockstar of Tennis 🎾

  • Reply Malcolm Marriott September 12, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Has he reviewed his contentions that he made during his career. Be interesting ta read how many of the contested calls were wrong. You know, somethin ya could calculate whilst having some lunch. Lunch like Salmon Da-la-Ronge' with Garlic Butter Rolls which would be most enjoyable with Princess Neritifi of Monaco. Does ya think that John McEnroe has ever had Salmon Da-la Ronge with Garlic Butter Rolls with Princess Neritifi of Monaco. He'd probably prefer a Kebab with Garlic Sauce with some Peach Tea as he does his calculations re contentions that have some merit.

  • Reply DevLarae2890 September 12, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Seth's quirks while interviewing…. his, "uhh" pencil twirling "super smiling" intense laughing "uhhhhh" …. are…. cute. Lol!

  • Reply Jose Chavez September 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Why does Seth have a pencil in his hand?

  • Reply keflar5 September 13, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Fucking Yanks have no class…no wonder.

  • Reply Billie Bergmann September 14, 2019 at 9:20 am

    well, that was entertaining! Thank you

  • Reply Jill Tamada September 14, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Fantastic matches this U.S. Open. Amazing. Is there any hope of American men coming up with a couple great players anytime soon?
    Lendl was the villain when John played. I just always thought John respected Bjorn so he behaved when he played Borg.. Always loved John, still love John. Finally got to see him play at Indian Wells this year. John, Tommy Haas, Sampras and Novak played a doubles match in place of the Nadal/Federer match because Nadal was injured. John is still very quick on the court and he and Haas beat Pete and Novak.

  • Reply Matthew Bryant September 15, 2019 at 8:39 am

    If you are getting exhausted watching a 5 hour tennis match, you just don't understand tennis and every decision just feels random; McEnroe takes that for granted, dude internalized tennis so much it's like, "dude if you don't understand tennis, you are sick in the head"; I had dick roommates who were confused how I could watch tennis and be perfectly calm for hours, and finally I was like dude, watch this, and just verbally said what I was thinking in my head during a point and then they sat down and watched tennis and conceded that experience was enjoyable… tennis strategy is kinda basic, it's like if you only had to think 1-3 moves ahead in chess… instead at bars it's like people just waiting for the point to end and not being sure what is happening on the court

  • Reply Matthew Bryant September 15, 2019 at 8:41 am

    The quality of tennis we would see from the Men would go up drastically if Men Grand Slams stopped unequal "working hours" for men with this best of 5 garbage that is outdated

  • Reply Draco lord September 20, 2019 at 11:02 am

    The equality in pay for the men and women has been a long time coming, but the men should only have to play the same amount of sets as the women otherwise it's not equality is it?

  • Reply João Pedro Nascimento September 23, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Answer my question!!!!!!!!! Asnwer my question!!!!! I love this guy!!

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