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John McEnroe

Kirsty Young interviews John McEnroe, former tennis star turned commentator.

Kirsty Young's castaway is the tennis player and commentator, John McEnroe. He won three singles and five doubles Wimbledon titles, four singles and four doubles at the US Open and was ranked number one in the world for four consecutive years in the 1980s.

John McEnroe grew up in New York and didn't pick up a tennis racquet until the age of eight, but his talent was quickly spotted and he began to compete in junior tournaments. In 1977, aged 18 and between high school and university, he qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals where he lost to Jimmy Connors. By the end of the tournament his on-court behaviour - shouting, haranguing umpires and abusing his racquet - earned him the nickname 'Superbrat'.

He made his first Wimbledon final against Bjorn Borg in 1980. In one of the finest matches in history, despite winning a tiebreak 18-16 to win the fourth set, he lost the match. He beat Borg the following year to win his first Wimbledon singles title. 1984 was the best year in John's career: he won 82 out of 85 matches he played, but it was also the year when he was beaten at the French Open by Ivan Lendl, who replaced him as number one.

John married the actress Tatum O'Neal in 1986. They divorced in the mid-1990s and he has been married to the singer Patty Smyth since 1997. Since retiring in 1992, in addition to his role as tennis commentator, he has been a coach and runs his own tennis academy. He still plays in tennis tournaments.

Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

Available now

35 minutes

Last on

Fri 21 Jul 2017 09:00

Music Played

  • David Bowie

    Suffragette City

    • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
    • EMI.
  • Pretenders


    • Pretenders.
    • Warner Music.
  • Led Zeppelin

    Bring It On Home

    • Led Zeppelin II.
    • Warner Music.
  • Sex Pistols

    God Save The Queen

    • Never Mind the Bollocks.
    • Warner Music.

    • Nirvana

      Come As You Are

      • Nevermind.
      • Polydor.
  • Stevie Wonder


    • Songs in the Key of Life.
    • Tamla.
  • Foreigner

    Feels Like the First Time

    • Foreigner: Greatest Hits.
    • Warner Music.
  • Rage Against the Machine

    Killing In The Name

    • Killing in the Name.
    • Epic.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey


    A vintage Martin acoustic guitar


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest John McEnroe
Producer Cathy Drysdale


  • Sun 16 Jul 2017 11:15
  • Fri 21 Jul 2017 09:00

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