McEnroe Senior – my son had to be a superbrat to win

THE Irish dad of tennis superstar John McEnroe says his volatile son had to be a superbrat to be successful.

John Patrick Senior – whose father was from Co. Cavan, and mother from Co. Westmeath – has been recalling his time as father of the world’s most controversial sportsman.
He would follow his son – dubbed “Superbrat” by the media – all round the world and was a regular at Wimbledon each year.

“It was terrific, a very exciting time,” retired lawyer McEnroe Snr. says of the 1980s when his son ruled the tennis courts.

“Of course he was  controversial. Like when he said, ‘You cannot be serious,’ to a ref at Wimbledon.  That’s the title of his [2002] autobiography.

“I didn’t like all the negative attention. How could I like it? But on the other hand, I thought if John wasn’t that way he wouldn’t be a winner. He had to let it out.”

Strangely McEnroe Snr. , now 78, believes his son’s best match was one he actually lost – to Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final. That match featured the greatest ever tie-break in the fourth set, which McEnroe snatched 18-16, before going on to lose in five agonising sets.

“That was some match,” he recalls. “Borg served better in the fifth set than the first. But then John came back that summer and beat Borg at the U.S. Open. And then the next year John beat Borg in both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals. So three out of four ain’t bad!”

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