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But Seriously An Autobiography By John McEnroe

Release date: 03rd July, 2017
Publisher: W & N

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £9.50
You Save: £10.5 (52%)
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While John McEnroe was winning the US Open in 1979, your correspondent was working in New York, oblivious (as was everyone else) to the verbal assault the American would shortly launch on Wimbledon’s well-tended grass courts.

Hailed as a phenomenon following that 1979 victory (he was only 20 when he became US champion), great things were expected of this native New Yorker when he left for the UK.

His army of American fans knew he was fiery, yet when Mac the Mouth let loose at umpires in SW19, regularly smashing his racquets in remarkable, never-before-seen acts of petulance, most Americans were deeply embarrassed. McEnroe might have been young, but he failed to project the image of America his countrymen insisted upon whenever their sporting stars performed overseas. His childish behaviour alienated a sizeable number of his compatriots. In 1981, the New York Times famously referred to McEnroe as a spoilt brat and the label stuck, this time on both sides of the Atlantic.

John McEnroe was a very good tennis player, but it’s pushing it to call him a great; it’s certainly questionable whether he justifies a second ghosted ‘autobiography’, although commercial considerations will have played a major part in the decision to publish.

After all, he’s a tennis commentator who collects art and knocks around with pop stars, but beyond that there’s little here to set the pulse racing.

Indeed, the calibre of some of the writing and editing leaves much to be desired. What might be called the over-use of adjectives and adverbs favoured by teenagers (‘awesome’, ‘crazy, ‘incredible and so on) become a little tiresome; let’s not forget that McEnroe is pushing sixty.

Nevertheless, McEnroe will pick up his fee because the book has been published, though one wonders whether the publishers will make any money from physical sales. It seems doubtful.

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