In 1978, McEnroe signed one of the first professional endorsement deals in tennis: an 8-year clothing contract with Sergio Tacchini. That same year, Nike signed him for a shoe-contract. McEnroe was the top money maker of the day, and even when he wasn’t winning, he received considerable attention due to his frequent on-court outbursts.

In the late 70s, Nike launched the Rebel with a cause campaign (a reference to James Dean’s film Rebel without a cause).

John was featured in commercials and billboards advertisements, which portrayed him as the quick-tempered player he was.

McEnroe continued to wear Sergio Tacchini clothes until the mid-80’s, he then signed a clothes and shoes contract with Nike.

Did you know that the famous Agassi’s denim shorts were originally designed for Mac but he refused to wear them.

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After Ivan Lendl had cancelled his adidas deal in 1990, he signed a reported $20 million racket and clothing contract with Japanese company Mizuno.

Watch out one of Ivan’s commercial for Mizuno: I play to win

7 times Grand Slam champion John McEnroe is know as much for his fiery temper as for his tennis achievements.

Here’s a little selection of his most famous outbursts:

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1982 French Open semi-final: Mats Wilander vs José-Luis Clerc

The semi-final against the Argentinian José-Luis Clerc was to go down in tennis history. Not because it was such a good match – but for its dramatic dénouement. At 6-5 and 40-30 in the fourth set Mats stood at match point. Clerc smacked a forehand that looked as if it hit the middle of the sideline. The line judge called the ball out. The umpire Jacques Dorfmann’s voice resounded over the capacity crowd in the centre court at Roland Garros:

“Game, set and match, Wilander.”

Clerc protested furiously. Mats stood there, bewildered, and Dorfmann climbed down from his chair, while the public performed a gigantic and unanimous whistling concert. When he reached the mark on the court, Dorfmann was confronted by an extremely unhappy Wilander:

“We must replay the point. I thought the ball was all right and I do not want to win the match in this way.”

The French umpire climbed up again. He took hold of the microphone and announced:

“At the request of Monsieur Wilander the point will be replayed.”

This phrase became itself a classic and has been associated with Mats Wilander throughout his career as a kind of symbol of the Swede’s sportsmanship. With the next match point Mats took his opportunity, and a place in the final was definitely his. The sequel to the match was hardly about the tournament at all.
The newsmen in the international media devoted about 90 percent of their space just to the theme of the remarkable Swede who asked if a point he had just won could be replayed. As everyone knew, this was not exactly a “friendly”, either, but a semi-final in the world’s greatest clay-court tournament where money in thousands lay on the line!

Extract from Mats Wilander and the Game Behind the Headlines

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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