John McEnroe on his tennis personality: More players are like me than Bjorn Borg

American tennis legend John McEnroe says he thinks that in reality more players are like him and Jimmy Connors than Bjorn Borg. 

McEnroe, a former seven-time Grand Slam champion, was known for his personality and on-court outbursts. 

On the other side, Borg was a very calm individual and would rarely show any expression. 

“Generally, I think people are, as far as tennis goes, more like me and Connors than Borg, who never showed any expression. It’s a very frustrating game that it’s hard not to get emotional about. I’d be, like, ‘I’m gonna go practise and be like Borg for two hours,’ and that would last, like, five minutes. It just wasn’t in my DNA,” McEnroe told The Week. 

McEnroe on the villain role

Growing up in Queens, New York, hearing people screaming was a “normal” thing for McEnroe. 

“I grew up in Queens in New York, and there were people yelling and screaming all the time,” McEnroe said. “It was a loud dinner table. And it seemed normal.”

When McEnroe went overseas for the first time in 1977 to compete at Wimbledon, he was surprised by how polite people were in London.

“I was, like, ‘Oh my God, these people are so polite. It’s so quiet here,'” McEnroe recalled. 

McEnroe was known for his outbursts but it was part of who he was as a player. 

McEnroe eventually embraced the villain role with time but admits that it was hard for him to explain to people that he was actually a nice guy off the court. 

“You sort of feed into this villain thing, maybe unbeknown to yourself, and then it becomes this out-of-control monster. People started to recognise me—‘Are you that brat guy?’—and it completely changed my life. I was, like, ‘They don’t understand me, I’m a nice guy.’ But of course I wasn’t real nice on the court at times.”