John McEnroe's Biography

John McEnroe John McEnroe

John McEnroe


  • Born
    16 February 1959
  • Died
  • Sex
  • Nationality
  • Citizen

One of most successful tennis players of all time, John McEnroe was a dominant force whose reputation was built just as much on his personality as it was on his fantastic play on the court. Known for his violent verbal abuse of ballboys, line judges, chair judges and himself, the McEnroe tirades became just as common as McEnroe victories—and he had plenty of those. During his career as a professional, John McEnroe won 17 Grand Slam titles, 77 career singles titles and 77 doubles titles. He has also been a mainstay of United States Davis Cup play, holding the American Davis Cup records for most wins, ties played, years played and singles wins (41). When he retired from the professional tour in 1992, he had an incredible singles record of 856 wins, 158 losses and 75 titles. Though he left professional tennis, John McEnroe remains a great presence in the sport as one of the mainstays on the Seniors Tour, as well as in the tennis broadcast booth.

Childhood and Early Life

Born on February 16, 1959, in Wiesbaden, West Germany .John Patrick McEnroe Jr. was the eldest of three sons born to Kay and John McEnroe Sr. His father John Sr., served in the United States Air Force at the time and was stationed overseas, where McEnroe's mother, Kay, was a surgical nurse. The family moved to the New York City borough of Queens in 1960, and McEnroe grew up primarily in the community of Douglaston, where he started to excel in sports during his early years. He eventually attended Trinity, a Manhattan-based prep school, where he continued to make athletics his focus. His younger brother Patrick would go on to become an esteemed tennis player as well.


McEnroe received tennis training at the Port Washington Tennis Academy nearby. He first attracted international attention as an amateur in 1977, when at the age of 18 he became the youngest man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals. He enrolled at Stanford University in 1977, but, after winning the U.S. collegiate title in 1978, he left school and turned professional. In his first six months on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour, McEnroe acquired a record of 49 wins and only 7 losses.

n 1979 McEnroe’s powerful volley helped him to win his first U.S. Open, and by the year’s end he was rated one of the best players in the world. He repeated his U.S. Open victory in 1980 and 1981—becoming the first man since Bill Tilden to win that title three consecutive times—and again in 1984. He also won the Wimbledon singles in 1981, 1983, and 1984. With partner Peter Fleming, McEnroe won several doubles titles at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, as well as Championship Tennis tournaments. From 1983 to 1985 he won 75 matches on indoor carpet, setting a record for most consecutive victories on one surface; his record was broken in 2007 by Rafael Nadal of Spain.

At the 1990 Australian Open, he became the first player to be ejected from a Grand Slam event in nearly 30 years. In 1992 he retired from professional play and subsequently became a television announcer. During this time he continued to play on the seniors tour, and in 1999 he returned to the professional tour, competing in the mixed-doubles event with Steffi Graf; they reached the semifinals but Graf withdrew, citing an injury. In 2006 McEnroe competed in two ATP doubles events, winning a tournament in San Jose, California.

Professional awards

1. ITF World Champion:1981, 1983, 1984

2. ATP player of the year: 1981, 1983, 1984

3. ATP most improved player 1978

4. World Number 1 Male Player

5. Davis Cup Commitment Award

Personal Life

In 1986, McEnroe married Oscar-winning actress Tatum O'Neal. They had three children together before divorcing in 1994. Three years later, McEnroe married rock singer/songwriter Patty Smyth, with whom he had two more children.


McEnroe is active in philanthropy and tennis development. For years he has co-chaired the City Parks Foundation's annual CityParks Tennis fundraiser. The charitable benefit 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.

John McEnroe Quotes

1. “You cannot be serious! ”

2. “My greatest strength is that I have no weaknesses. ”

3. “As they say in sports, the older you get, the better you used to be. ”

4. “Do you have any problems, other than that you're unemployed, a moron, and a dork?”

5. “ The important thing is to learn a lesson every time you lose. Life is a learning process and you have to try to learn what's best for you. Let me tell you, life is not fun when you're banging your head against a brick wall all the time. ”

6. “I have never seen someone point after point that just gives it everything. ”

7. “ The important thing is to learn a lesson every time you lose. ”

8. “We all choke. Winners know how to handle choking better than losers. ”

9. “I want to be remembered as a great player, but I guess it will be as a player who got angry on a tennis court. ”

10. “I think it's the mark of a great player to be confident in tough situations. ”

11. “That's one of the best sets I've seen him play, although I should preface that by saying I haven't seen him play before. ”

12. “I'll let the racket do the talking. ”

13. “What is the single most important quality in a tennis champion? I would have to say desire, staying in there and winning matches when you are not playing that well. ”

14. “ Everybody loves success, but they hate successful people. ”

15. “This [defeat] has taught me a lesson, but I'm not sure what it is. ”

16. “Borg's won Wimbledon four straight times and out there he has just lost an 18-16 tie breaker. You'd think maybe once he'd let up and say forget it. But oh, no way. ”

17. “If Serena Williams played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world. ”

18. “I know being a linesman is a thankless job, especially with guys like me around. ”

19. “You can tell when someone has been on steroids A guy bulks up, has a new body and never gets tired...You see these guys or girls who come onto the tour talking about their new training programs and their diets where they eat this or that new thingbut they'll never tell you about the drugs they took. ”

20. “ If Roger stopped right now and never won another match, to me he'd already be one of the greatest players to ever play the game. To me, he's the greatest all around talent that I've ever seen. ”

21. “It's been predictable, in the sense of 'expect the unexpected'. ”

22. “Bush is an idiot and he's President, so anything's possible ”

23. “I'd like to think I could have and should have won more, but that's not the point. And I was at the point where I was playing great tennis in the mid 80s - the type of tennis people hadn't seen before - and I was very proud of that. ”

24. “We should reach out to people to try to go after the fans the way other sports do. Because we can't just depend on the fact that it is a great game. ”

25. “I believe there's only one autobiography you can do. ”

See Also