McEnroe, John 1959-
McENROE, John 1959-
PERSONAL: Born February 16, 1959, in Wiesbaden, Germany; son of John Patrick (a lawyer) and Kay (a surgical nurse); married Tatum O'Neal (an actress), August 1, 1986 (marriage ended); married Patty Smyth (a singer), 1997; children: (first marriage) Kevin, Sean, Emily; (second marriage) three. Education: Attended Stanford University, 1978.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o G. P. Putman/Penguin Publicity, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.
CAREER: Professional tennis player, television commentator and host, and author.
MEMBER: All-England, honorary membership, 1982.
AWARDS, HONORS: NCAA singles tennis title, 1978; U.S. open singles championships, 1979-81, 1984; U.S. open doubles championships, 1979-81, 1983-84; French mixed championship, 1977; Grand Prix Masters and World Championship tennis finals, 1979; Wimbledon singles championships, 1981-83, 1984; Wimbledon doubles championships, 1979-81, 1983-84, 1992; named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, 1981; Davis Cup championships, 1978-84, 1987-89, 1991-92; inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame, 1999.
(With James Kaplan) You Cannot Be Serious, G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Tennis champion John McEnroe, affectionately known as Johnny Mac in his home town of New York City, is known for both his athletic skill and his bursts of temper on the court. In his memoir You Cannot Be Serious, the title of which refers to one of McEnroe's more famous, and least foul, comments to court officials, McEnroe details major portions of his life both on and off the tennis court. As described by Wes Lukowsky in Booklist, the memoir is written "with a good-humored maturity borne of age and experience," and in it "McEnroe recounts his edgy years as a star, wincing a bit at the youthful excesses and the self-important posturing."
McEnroe's parents noticed their son's unusually well-developed hand-eye coordination and athletic ability when he was just a toddler, and they nurtured his natural abilities as he was growing up. By 1977, when he was only eighteen years old, he became the youngest man ever to reach the semifinals at one of the world's most prestigious tennis tournaments, Wimbledon. A year later, he turned pro, and in 1979, he won the U.S. Open singles championship, the Grand Prix Masters, and the World Championship Tennis finals.
As McEnroe rose in the ranks, so, it seemed, did his petulance. He was a tremendously gifted athlete who appeared to feed off his angry outbursts. As Larry Platt put it in Salon.com: "The talent and the temperament seemed to work hand in hand. In exploding, McEnroe would create a drama with himself at its epicenter and, by raising the stakes, he'd more often than not raise the level of his play."
By 1984 McEnroe was at the top of his game. However, players like McEnroe, Jimmy Conners, and Bjorn Borg, known more for finesse than raw power, were being replaced by metal-racquet power swingers like Boris Becker. Confronting problems with his marriage to actress Tatum O'Neal as well as a waning tennis career, McEnroe nevertheless led the U.S. team to a Davis Cup win in 1992—his last great year in tennis. Thereafter, McEnroe took an interest in art and eventually purchased a museum in the SoHo district of New York City. He also took guitar lessons from Eric Clapton and formed a band; his involvement with music introduced him to singer Patty Smyth, who became his second wife. McEnroe's focus on family life since then led to his being named Father of the Year in 1996 by the National Father's Day Committee.
You Cannot Be Serious, co-authored by journalist James Kaplan, was described by Library Journal reviewer Howard Katz as a "candid look at [a] colorful career." Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch also appreciated the book's candor, and noted that "what McEnroe seems most interested in is getting to the core of who he is."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Evans, Richard, McEnroe, A Rage for Perfection: A Biography, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.
Goffi, Carlos, Tournament Tough, edited by William Davies, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston (New York, NY), 1984.
Book, July-August 2002, Elaine Szewczyk, review of You Cannot Be Serious, pp. 84-85.
Booklist. June 1, 2002, Wes Lukowsky, review of You Cannot Be Serious, p. 1643.
Library Journal, July 2002, Howard Katz, review of You Cannot Be Serious, p. 89.
Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2002, review of You Cannot Be Serious, p. 82.
Sport, October 1992, Thomas Bonk, "Down the Stretch: John McEnroe Gets Philosophical on Us as He Prepares to Leave the Court," pp. 76-79.
Sports Illustrated, June 24, 2002, Richard Deitsch, an interview with McEnroe, p. 27.
Salon.com,http://archive.salon.com/ (July 11, 2000), Larry Platt, "John McEnroe.*"