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‘Can’t Afford to Play the Game’- John McEnroe Hits Out at Tennis for Being a ‘White Man’s Game’

Published 09/07/2022, 12:20 PM EDT

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John McEnroe, a man with a fiery reputation, is renowned for his double triumphs and was an all-court player. He is a former tennis champion and is perhaps the finest net player in tennis history.

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The tennis legend amassed 155 titles over his career, which is more than any other man in the game’s contemporary history. However, he seemed to be very vocal about tennis being a white man’s sport.


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John McEnroe made a firm statement

On September 6, 2022, the ‘Fresh Air’ podcast hosted by Dave Davies invited John McEnroe. So during the conversation, he stated, “I feel like the sport is suffered still because it’s still considered sort of this. You know, it’s too expensive, that upper class. The white man’s game that hasn’t had given opportunity to enough people. You know, can’t afford to play the game.

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This conversation is based on a new documentary by Barney Douglas, which is currently streaming on Showtime, featuring McEnroe. His relationships with his manager, father, and own children are all addressed in the documentary. It also illustrates how successful he was at such a young age. John frequently provides analysis during big tennis tournament broadcasts on TV.


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John as a player and his renowned achievements

In 1977, at the age of 18, John McEnroe became the youngest man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals as an amateur, gaining him widespread recognition across the world. He amassed a record of 49 victories and only seven losses while competing on the ATP tour throughout the first half of a year. 

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McEnroe made it to the Wimbledon finals five times, and he won three times. It was in the first round of the 1981 tournament against Tom Gullikson that he had his famous meltdown and played his most famous match against Borg. McEnroe held the top spot in the singles rankings for 170 consecutive weeks and spent nine years in the top ten in the world.


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John McEnroe is a legendary champion who deserves credit for his contributions to the game. His criticism of tennis as a white man’s sport is welcome, as change can only come from open debate. 


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WATCH THE STORY: John McEnroe comes up with a huge admission about Serena Williams

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Written by:

Sampreet Shetty


One take at a time

Sampreet Shetty is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. After earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering, he started his professional career as a content writer. He is an Andy Murray fan and avidly follows his exploits on the ATP tour.
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Edited by:

Jito Tenson