I didn't see this posted anywhere, so here ya go...
Q&A: John McEnroe
Tennis legend John McEnroe was on hand to answer your questions.
The three-time Wimbledon winner took time out from the Delta Tour of Champions event in Rome this weekend to chat to BBC Sport.
The American, who now excels as a commentator on BBC television, is one of the star attractions on the Delta Tour of Champions, which culminates in The Masters at London's Royal Albert Hall (November 29 - December 4).
McEnroe will also be in London next month to play in a special challenge match against Boris Becker on finals day (12th June) of the Stella Artois Championships at the Queen's Club.
Thanks for all your questions - here are a selection of the best.
Any French Open or Wimbledon-related questions will be answered in separate Q&A specials just before each event begins.
During your peak who did you consider your toughest opponent and why?
Jayson Tang, USA
My peak was probably in the 80's and I had some great matches with Borg - which were probably the matches that I remember the most. I don't think I was necessarily playing my best tennis but those were definitely the most exciting matches. Both of us were helping each other - making each other better players, and we were the perfect mix for the game.
(Jimmy) Connors was there as well and going after us both. I started to play better tennis in the mid-80's and had a couple of great years. The toughest guys were (Ivan) Lendl on clay, (Mats) Wilander as well, and as time went on, the guys that I would have wanted to play at my peak at Wimbledon were (Boris) Becker and (Pete) Sampras.
We didn't overlap exactly. I could have played Becker in the finals in 1985, but I lost to (Kevin) Curran who Becker eventually beat. That would have been a great match and I wish I could have lasted a little longer playing my best tennis. At least I can make up for lost time a little at the Stella in June when I'll finally get Boris on grass!
John, I sometimes get mad when I play, really mad and usually it helps my intensity and focus. Did you find it helped your game?
Guy Sellek, England
Before I had kids it definitely helped. After I had kids I started to question whether it would come back to be a poor example and tougher to explain. If it's done in the right way, if you're not swearing for example and just letting out some excess energy, it can be helpful.
In certain cases I think it did the same for me as it did for you, which was to get me more into it and make me more focused, as opposed to some players who it would make less focused. There's probably only about one out of ten guys that it actually helps, I fell into that category - it could wake me up, get the crowd more involved and sometimes distract my opponent. The combination helped me.
Just out of curiosity, I would like to know your position on the ordeal of introducing electronic lines judges considering the linespersons were probably your most disliked people on court.
I would favour electronic line judges if you could be sure that it could be done properly. It would be one less thing for the players to worry about. People always say to me 'Well you'd have no-one to yell at John!'. And my answer to that is: 'I would find someone in the crowd!' There's always people watching, and there's still the guy in the chair so there's still going to be some give and take.
It would also be a nice luxury, because tennis is the only sport where you are confined to an area where every line could be covered. There could be a situation where, if you took away the let-chord rule and there was electronic equipment that worked, where you would actually not have to worry about calls, which is a pretty big thing of us - there wouldn't be any judgement calls.
I think that's something to strive for. Even though it's not perfected yet I would use it for television replays and allow players to use it a couple of times a match to argue their case, and then penalise them a couple of times if they were wrong. That would add an element of drama to the match.
With a player like Andre Agassi still playing at the top of his game at 35, does it bring any regrets about your decision to retire in 1992?
Andy Stevenson, UK
I had some personal issues at the time, I was going through a divorce at the end of 1992, matches that I could have won I didn't win, and you can't cry over spilled milk. I still get out there (on the Delta Tour of Champions) and I still play well enough to get the juices flowing. No-one's telling me I can't do it. I've got to say this for the record - if I believed for a moment that I could still win Wimbledon, I'd still be doing it. The fact is that I don't think I could get through the tournament, so I don't do it. If I still thought I could do it, I'd still be out there!
If there is one thing about the game (that's tennis, of course) you could change, what would it be, and why?
Chris Green, Japan
I would move the service line in a few inches and make the serve less important, particularly in the men's game. I think that would add a little bit of nuance to the serve - placement would be more important and you would see longer points because it would be tougher to hit aces and increase the chances on return.
It would force people to re-think their strategies. I would also eliminate the let-chord for a serve. I just think that this happens anywhere from three times to ten times in a best-of-five-set match and I think that slows the match down too much.
There are times when players aren't sure if the umpire is getting it right and it would add that element of drama and excitement to see a ball dribble over the net. It does add an element of luck, which is why most players don't want it done, but I think as a fan it would be more exciting.
If you were given the choice of being an all-time great tennis player OR an all-time great rock star, could you really pass up strutting onstage like Mick Jagger?
Rich, United States
The way that you put it there it sounds like it would be difficult! But I have often had athletes or entertainers telling me that they wish they could do the thing that they are not doing. I would still want to be a professional athlete. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't want to be a professional rock-star, but the mindset of competition and trying to be mentally and physically tough is something that I've done my whole life.
This other scenario only came about later as I got chance to see some of these great concerts. I wouldn't have had that luxury if I hadn't have been a tennis player, so I think I'll stick with tennis!
Is the light going out for American tennis? Are we fading from the tennis scene the way the Swedes did after Edberg?
Brian Dines, USA
I think that if you look at the great run of players from the early 1990's when we had Agassi, Sampras, (Jim) Courier and (Michael) Chang, they were a group of players that bettered each other, and that was a key to their success.
For whatever reason the sport didn't light a fire for enough fans during that period - there were other options and I think the sport needed to do a better job marketing itself to appeal to people in America, to make them want to play. In America you don't see it on big television stations and we need to take that seriously. Andre (Agassi) is a great champion, one of the greatest players ever, but he's not going to get any younger.
(Andy) Roddick is someone that does 'get' that he needs to be out there and publicised, he does a good job of that, but somehow the sport has to capitalise on itself. It's a better sport than it's being portrayed as in America. Even when we had the Williams sisters at their best there wasn't as much made of that great story as there could have been.
Are you naturally gifted at other racket sports? To what standard do you think you could play them?
Andy Ainley, Ireland
I don't play other racquet sports much, but I would say 'yes'! I've played squash and racquet-ball only a handful of times, but I'm sort of a snob, because to me tennis is by far the best sport.
I used to play ping pong a lot, and a bit of badminton, but although they are fun games, I look at tennis and it's everything that these other sports are, plus it has more to it physically and mentally. Even though those other sports are ok, I wouldn't recommend anyone playing them instead of tennis!
Story from BBC SPORT:
Published: 2005/05/09 11:50:28 GMT
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