John McEnroe closes his lips long enough to kiss his trophy upon winning his final Grand Slam in 1984.
Few figures in sport have drawn the unique combination of ire and respect that followed John McEnroe—tennis’s fiery superbrat and one of its greatest champions. McEnroe, a lefty serve-and-volley specialist raised in Douglaston, Queens, and trained at the Port Washington Tennis Academy, was a dominant figure in the popularization of tennis in the ’70s and ’80s; he became known the world over for his on-court antics and bombastic outbursts, most famous among them his indignant protest, “You cannot be serious!” at Wimbledon in 1981.
McEnroe would eventually capture seven Grand Slam singles titles—three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open. His 1984 Open final round demolition of rival Ivan Lendl capped the Queens native’s greatest year, in which he won 82 matches and lost only three. In a rare moment of silence for McEnroe, he closed his lips long enough to give his trophy—the last Grand Slam he’d ever win—a quick smooch for the cameras after his victory on Sunday, September 9, 1984.
McEnroe remains one of tennis’s marquee ambassadors, running his John McEnroe Tennis Academy, which has an annex in Bethpage, and working as a broadcaster for all of tennis’s major events. He and his wife, Patty, have a home in Southampton and have even been spotted at some East End fundraisers, playing nice with politicians and heads of state. But assuredly, when the lights come up on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, McEnroe will be behind the microphone with his own brand of insight and commentary—plus a few outbursts, we’re sure. For a guy who once famously promised to let his racket do the talking, he sure seems intent on never shutting up.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAN FARRELL/NY DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE VIA GETTY IMAGES