You Cannot Be Serious
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John McEnroe was just an eighteen-year-old amateur from Queens when he stunned the tennis world by making it to the Wimbledon semifinals in 1977. He turned pro the following year after winning the NCAA singles title; three years later, he was ranked number one in the world. McEnroe dominated tennis in the eighties, winning three Wimbledon and four U.S. Open titles. His 1980 Wimbledon final match with Bjorn Borg is considered by many tennis experts to be the best match ever.
You Cannot Be Serious is McEnroe at his most personal, a no-holds-barred examination of contemporary tennis, his championship seasons, his cantankerous on-court behavior, his marriage to Tatum O'Neal, his current roles as a devoted father, husband to pop star Patty Smyth, senior tennis tour player, and controversial television commentator, and much more.
Funny, biting, close to the bone, this is exactly the book you'd expect-and want-from one of the most colorful figures of our time.
than enough. Even before he won Wimbledon, when he was just fifteen, there were hundreds of girls around him: tennis groupies, like the Beatles and the Stones had! That had never happened before in the game; it’s never happened since. Some people compare Sampras to Borg. In my mind, there’s no comparison. Even though Pete is one of the greatest players, maybe the great- 86 | John McEnroe est player, of all time, Borg, by his presence alone, gave a lot back to the game. His story was
of our respective (and complementary) talents, and that indefinable closeness of spirit. However, Peter has one famous quote that, in a way, will always haunt him: When somebody asked him who the greatest doubles team in history was, he said, “John McEnroe and anyone.” I think it’s important to understand the context of that remark. It happened at the 1982 Davis Cup final against France, in Grenoble, after Peter and I had beaten Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte to help ice a 4–1 U.S. victory. Peter
get that way? And the first thing I tell them is, I’m a New Yorker. New Yorkers don’t hold anything back—sitting in traffic or just walking down the street, we lay it on the line, and we don’t whisper when we do it. My dad’s like that. He grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but not the fancy Upper East Side—it was the patchwork of Irish, German, Italian, Polish, and Hungarian working-class enclaves known as Yorkville. His father, John Joseph McEnroe, immigrated here from Ireland in the
boom years). I was seeded first, and Lendl was seeded second, in a pretty strong field. One night, during the early rounds, I got a phone call from Don Budge. Budge, of course, was one of tennis’s all-time greats, and the last American to have won the Grand Slam, in 1938. He was also a hell of a nice guy, and a number of times over the course of my career, he made it a point to call me with advice or congratulations. He loved to give advice if you were willing to listen, and I was always more
straight-ahead their strategy seemed to me. I began to look at the court differently—as a mathematical equation, almost. The angles were everything. It wasn’t about just hitting a slice and approaching the net. Sometimes you should slice it deep, but sometimes you could come in and slice it off the court—use the angles. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS • • | 27 • A F T E R I ’ D B E E N at Port Washington for a couple of months, an amazing thing happened: Harry Hopman showed up. Harry was a walking