Borg, McEnroe Wimbledon 1981

I had been famous for a few years now, but Wimbledon in ’81 is where I became infamous.

John McEnroe

Excerpts from McEnroe‘s autobiography, Serious:

“I was unbelievably tense at Wimbledon in 1981 because I knew, after beating Borg at the Open, that I could win it, should win it, would win it – unless disaster struck.
Well, disaster did strike, and kept striking, round after round, and somehow I kept getting through – endearing myself to nobody in the process.

It began at the beginning.

Although this was to become one of my famous matches, I’m positive almost nobody remembers who I played, and when I played it: Tom Gullikson, first round, Wimbledon 1981. Court One.

I had behaved badly at Wimbledon before. I was already Super Brat. Now I upped the ante. Tom could be a pretty tough opponent on grass, but i had a much tougher adversary out there that day. Even though I would eventually win in straight sets 7-6 7-5 6-3, I just couldn’t rest easy when I got ahead: the devils were crawling all over my brain that afternoon. When Gullikson went ahead 4-3 in the second set on a miserable line call, I smashed my Wilson Pro Staff racket, and James issued me a warning. And later, when a linesman called a serve deep that I had clearly seen throw up a spray of chalk, I threw my new racket and gave a scream that came straight from Queens – but that has traveled very far in the years since.”

Man, you cannot be serious!

[youtube width=”480″ height=”385″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekQ_Ja02gTY[/youtube]

You guys are the absolute pits of the world.

The umpire understood “You guys are the piss of the world” and gave Mac a point penalty. McEnroe demanded to see the referee, and yelled:

We’re not going to have a point taken away because this guy is an incompetent fool!

After the match, McEnroe was fined $750 for the obscenity, $750 for an unsportsmanlike comment about the umpire, and threatened with an additional 10000 fine and suspension from the tournament.

And I want you to understand: I felt terrible. I’ve felt awful virtually every time I’ve had one of my on-court meldowns.

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Wimbledon Centre Court

1991 is the year Agassi made his comeback at Wimbledon after a 3 year boycott, the year another German (Michael Stich) won the Championships, but it’s also the year of the first Middle Sunday in Wimbledon history.
In his book Holding Court, Chris Gorringe then All England Club chief executive tells the story behind the first Middle Sunday, “the best and worst day of his life.”

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

Rudyard Kipling‘s words are boldly displayed in the All England Clubhouse, there to inspire players as they wend their way from the dressing rooms down to Centre Court. As I stood staring up at them in 1991, during the wettest Wimbledon in history, they has a striking resonance. The weather conditions had just forced us into scheduling an extra day’s play for the Middle Sunday of The Championships – but right now we had no tickets, no security, no catering, no umpires, no groundstaff, and no precedent to follow. Whether triumph of disaster lay ahead – who knew?

The worst start to The Championships

“It had been an absolutely dreadful start to the tournament. We had no play on the first Monday, and intermittent rain throughout Tuesday. Wednesday was even worse with just 18 matches played, and by the end of Thursday, things were dire. For the players, it was a terrible ordeal. It took Stefan Edberg, the defending champion, 73 hours to finish the first round match:

Thank God it’s over. I haven’t even been able to eat a decent lunch for four days

And he was on of the lucky ones – at least he had made it onto court. We were almost a third of the way through the tournament and yet had completed only 52 out of 240 scheduled matches. It was no surprise then, to find myself, chairman John Curry, Michael Hann, chairman of the order of play sub-committee, referee Alan Mills and Richard Grier, Championships director, gathered together during yet another rain delay, looking at the feasibility of play on Sunday – something that had never been done before.”

On Friday evening the decision was made to play on Middle Sunday for first time in Wimbledon history.

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Some pics of the planned Jimmy Connors World Of Tennis Stadium, designed by Foundation Architecture & Design.
The proposed design for the tennis centre and stadium is inspired by the deconstruction of a tennis ball. The dissected shell of the ball has been rearranged to form an enclosure for the tennis centre and the bowl for the stadium. The familiar seams seen on tennis balls are replicated in the roof lines of the building.

Jimmy Connors World of Tennis

Jimmy Connors World of Tennis

Jimmy Connors World of Tennis

Jimmy Connors World of Tennis

Well, I like the design but seriously, a tennis academy in Abu Dhabi aha aha, sure it will replace Florida as the new tennis Mecca.

On September 7, 1980, McEnroe attained glorious and Grand Slam revenge at Louis Armstrong Stadium in 5 exhilarating and draining sets against his polar opposite and favorite dueling partner, Bjorn Borg.

Borg, 24, was the dominant force in tennis, winning 3 straight French Open and 3 straight Wimbledon. He had lost only once in 1980 and was reaping 3 millions $ a year in endorsements. But he had yet to solve the US Open, having lost 2 finals to Jimmy Connors and been upset by Roscoe Tanner in 1979.

After his Wimbledon epic, however, Borg publicly declared himself ready to conquer New York. At Flushing Meadows, Borg overcame Tanner in 5 sets in the quarterfinals, then dropped 2 sets to Johan Kriek in the semies before destroying him 6-1 6-1 6-1. McEnroe, the defending champion was all that stood in his way.

McEnroe had beat up and comer Ivan Lendl in 4 sets in the quarterfinals on Thursday, 5 sets in the men’s doubles final on Friday, and on Saturday outlasted his other archrival Jimmy Connors. McEnroe emerged the victor after 4h16, with a hard fought 5th set tiebreaker.

Lefties like McEnroe had won the previous 6 US Opens, but Borg who had defeated McEnroe in 4 of their 5 previous meetings, seemed unbeatable…


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US Open Trivia

– The US Open has been played on 3 different surfaces: it was originally played on grass until Forest Hills switched to Har-Tru clay courts in 1975. In 1978, the event moved from Forest Hills to its current home at Flushing Meadows, and the surface changed again, to the current DecoTurf.
Jimmy Connors is the only player to have won the US Open on all three surfaces.

– The main court is located at the 24,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, named after Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis player who won the inaugural men’s final of the US Open in 1968.
Court Number 2 is Louis Armstrong Stadium, which stood as the main stadium until the completion of Ashe stadium. Court Number 3 is the Grandstand Stadium, which is attached to the Louis Armstrong Stadium.

-In 1970, the US Open was the first Grand Slam tournament to use the tie breaker. At the time, it was a 9 point playoff with the first player to 5 winning. The US Open is still the only Grand Slam tournament to use tie breakers in the third set for women and the fifth set for men.

-In 1975, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to hold matches at night. Fewer than 5,000 fans turned out to watch the very first night match

Tracy Austin is the youngest singles champion. She was 16 years 8 months and 28 days when she won in 1979. Besides Austin, Maureen Connolly and Martina Hingis also won the women’s singles title before their 17th birthdays.

Pete Sampras is the male youngest singles champion. He was 19 years and 28 days when he beat Andre Agassi in 1990.

– The longest match on record in the history of the U.S. Championships came on Sept. 12, 1992, when Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang played for five hours and 26 minutes in the men’s singles semifinals, before Edberg won 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4.

– In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to implement instant replay reviews of calls, using Hawk-Eye.

– In 2007, Roger Federer became the first men’s singles player to win 4 consecutive US Open.