With the assistance of Tennis magazine veteran Bodo, former pro, current Davis Cup captain and tennis lifer McEnroe dishes on his more famous brother, current and former stars, and life on and off the court.
Sports tell-alls are most successful when they court controversy, whether penned by a charismatic legend (see Andre Agassi’s brutally honest Open, 2009) or a washed-up has-been with the juiciest dirt (see Jose Canseco’s steroid exposé, Juiced, 2005). McEnroe’s memoir, however, falls short of achieving the same headline-grabbing status because its author is neither a superstar—the journeyman player experienced limited success as a singles player; he fared far better in doubles, but those accomplishments were overshadowed by his brother John’s breathtaking skill and legendary temper—nor in possession of a bombshell revelation—the closest he comes is calling out superstars Serena Williams and Agassi for selfish behavior and excoriating domineering parents of young tennis prodigies. However, though the author lacks his brother’s explosive magnetism, he exudes sufficient Everyman charm and provides enough in-the-trenches tales, both from his long playing career and as Davis Cup captain. In that role, he has experienced a mix of extraordinary success and crushing defeat, leading stars like Andy Roddick (whom McEnroe praises effusively), the “mercurial” James Blake and the patriotic doubles tandem of Bob and Mike Bryan. The book excels when the author details the conflicts of interest that arise between his broadcasting duties and role with the United States Tennis Association and dishes amusing, if largely innocuous, gossip on his contemporaries and current players—though his repeated critiques of the women’s game may come off as misogynistic if taken out of context. When he delves too deeply into technical tennis talk, less-dedicated readers may head for the exits.
Not for casual fans—best for tennis junkies older than 30.