1986 : Big Mac please !

Jul 25, 2023, 3:19:04 PM

1986 : Big Mac please !

John Mcenroe, story of a committed man

John McEnroe ranked World No. 2 in early 1986. ‘Big Mac’ had won seven Grand Slam tournaments since 1979 and was left with two options; he could either keep outplaying the best players in the world, or sweep tennis aside, take a year off, get married with actress Tatum O’Neal, and pave the way for the aftermath of his tennis career by starting his own charity –the John McEnroe Foundation. Of course, he chose the second option. Four years later, he would not only be famous for his tennis achievements anymore. He was so involved in charity that he became one of the most iconic tennis players ever. In 1990, before playing an exhibition tournament for 2000/LOVE –a charity event to help stop world hunger– McEnroe spoke in favour of a more united and engaged tennis. “Tennis is an individual sport. We always look behind our back to see which players can challenge us. We look out for a competitive advantage; we compete and train hard. But the actual hard work that should be our priority has been left out. It is our duty. We have become spoiled. We have been trapped in our own  world; we can’t see the global situation anymore.” McEnroe donated at least $250,000 every year to charity and went a step further in 2010 when he launched the Johnny Mac Tennis Project. This program gives tennis classes to thousands of disadvantaged  children from New York –Harlem and Bronx especially. Since 2019, the former best  ATP player in the world has partnered BNP Paribas and launched Team BNP Paribas Mac 1, a team in which ten players aged from 11 to 14 prepare for a professional tennis career. It offers them financial support by covering their competition and training expenses, an average 24 hours of weekly practice, and learning programs adapted to their personal needs. John considers this partnership vital as it has become too expensive to play tennis in New York. “I am a New Yorker, but there aren’t many pro players from New York anymore. The problem is that prices are crazy. Most tennis clubs have gone bankrupt, and we need sponsors like BNP Paribas so these kids can dream of making it one day.” In August 2022, thirty years after he retired, he returned to New York to play along the likes of Iga Swiatek, Rafael Nadal and Coco Gauff and raise funds for the humanitarian emergency services operating in Ukraine. 64-year-old McEnroe is still running, though he does not do it for titles anymore.