December 8, 2018
John McEnroe has accomplished a lot during his tennis career to say the least. More than 41 years ago — as a teenager — the American first broke onto the scene by reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon on his debut.
“I came here at 18 and played Wimbledon for the first time. That was a dream come true,” McEnroe said.
The former World No. 1 first lifted a trophy at the Royal Albert Hall 21 years ago. So perhaps it’s fitting that on Friday evening, McEnroe played his final match at the venue, combining with Tim Henman to beat Thomas Enqvist and Goran Ivanisevic.
“It’s a different feeling than the main Tour. We all go out and play 100 per cent, but there’s a different feeling and a camaraderie amongst these guys,” McEnroe said. “I must say, for all these guys to come out, it means a lot. It’s been a lot of fun all these years… I remember coming here [for the first time] and I thought this is one of the most amazing places.”
McEnroe is well-known for his competitive nature, and that has certainly not left him on the ATP Champions Tour. He still gave it his all this week at Champions Tennis. But at 59, McEnroe has decided to hang up his racquet.
“A couple years ago I said I just can’t do this anymore. So of course they were so nice and they started helping me out and making it easier for me, let’s just put it that way,” McEnroe said, cracking a laugh. “These guys are very good at that, they’re pros. And then I said that’s it and then they said come back to play doubles [here] one more time to say goodbye, so all I can say is thank you.”
The rest of the players competing at the Royal Albert Hall stood on court with McEnroe, applauding as the crowd gave him a loud ovation. And Mansour Bahrami, who’s known for his racquet skills on the doubles court, walked over and put McEnroe on his shoulders, parading the all-time great around the court.
Editors’ Note: It was incorrectly reported on Friday that 2018 Champions Tennis was John McEnroe’s final ATP Champions Tour event. It was his final appearance at the Royal Albert Hall. We apologise for the error.