John McEnroe: A Class Act As Wimbledon Commentator

Matthew SchiffmanAnalyst IJuly 7, 2008

What occurred on Sunday, July 6, 2008 in London, England can simply not be put into words.

I’m not going to even try to attempt to describe the gut-wrenching effort we saw from both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the level of play that was simply out of this world, or the unfathomable mental toughness that both players displayed during their four-hours, 48-minute epic battle on Centre Court of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

But considering how big a tennis fan I am, I want to write something about this match. I just have to get my two cents in there about something—anything—that is related to the highest quality of tennis ever produced.

Not only were we tennis fans—and all sports fans, for that matter—treated to a brilliant match (yes, I know, that’s a severe understatement of the quality), but we were also treated to a wonderful broadcast.

John McEnroe may have been a bad boy in his competitive days, but the man has always loved the game. And that love for tennis was evident in his broadcast.

McEnroe was dutifully objective, critiquing and praising both players throughout the entirety of the match. As a broadcaster, that’s very important, so that viewers do not become irritated by any partiality.

But the greatest part was that McEnroe was enjoying the match more than any of us viewers at home. He and Ted Robinson continually remarked about how lucky they were to be sitting there watching the match live.

And McEnroe reminded the audience over and over that we were watching two of the greatest players ever, one of them maybe the greatest ever, battling at a quality that has never before been seen.

He had so much energy and enthusiasm throughout the match, all the while providing expert analysis that most others cannot deliver. McEnroe is a legend, a multiple Slam winner, so he knows what these guys are going through. Still, even he remarked over and over about the impressiveness of the players’ mental toughness.

As great as McEnroe was in the booth, his post-match interviews with Federer and Nadal were even better.

When he recognized that Federer was emotionally drained and beginning to tear up, McEnroe cut the interview short. Then he hugged Federer and thanked him for what he’s done for tennis. Can you think of another interview where you saw something like that?

McEnroe may have been a punk in his younger days, but on Sunday he showed that he’s now become much more mature, displaying absolute class in his coverage of the Wimbledon final.