The Wimbledon where McEnroe screamed ‘you cannot be serious’ and took Borg down

The rivalry between the American John mcenroe, the ‘bad boy’ par excellence of tennis, and the Swedish Bjorn borg, the ice man, has given for many books and also a movie. Antagonistic styles in play and behavior that especially collided at Wimbledon.

This Sunday, July 4, has been the 40th anniversary of a memorable match, because ‘Big Mac’ took revenge for the defeat in the 1980 final, the tiebreak 18-16 and 8-6 in the fifth manga, beating by 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) and 6-4 in 3h. 26 ‘. At 22 he was consecrated as a champion, who already had two US Open and a Masters, and the terror of the referees on a tennis court, as well as of the tournaments given his explosive reactions also outside the stadiums.


McEnroe ended Borg’s streak of 41 straight wins, of his five titles, for the headache of the All England Club, who asked for a millionaire fine and a suspension of months for repeated unsportsmanlike conduct during the competition. It did not even assure him the direct status of partner as champion.


The 25-year-old Borg would never play at Wimbledon again. McEnroe would win two of the next three editions, although he did not revalidate the crown in 1982 being the victim of another of his great rivals, his compatriot Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Connors.

“My legs have never trembled so much,” acknowledged McEnroe with his trophy. Later he would make another rudeness to the All England Club by not attending the official dinner. He left London in a Concorde the next day in controversy.

You cannot be serious !, That ball was on the line

Surely McEnroe would not have had to pass the first round, where the most normal thing would have been his disqualification, as the Welsh chair umpire Edward James later stressed, who whistled him for the first and last time in a match that went down in history for the sentence that the tennis player shouted at him on court 1 at Wimbledon: “You can’t be serious, man. You cannot be serious !, That ball was on the line. Chalk flew up! ”. You can’t be serious, man. You can’t be serious! ”The ball touched the line. Skipped the chalk (the lime from the line) !. And he continued bellowing: “How can you sing it outside? How many are you going to fail?

Enraged, McEnroe yelled that umpires are “pits of the world” (worst of the world, scum). And he particularly insulted Edward Jones, who announced over the microphone that the tennis player was given a penalty point.


McEnroe continued to put on the show. All for a serve that, yes, lifted the lime and possibly would have deserved the ‘ace’. But it was the first set with the American Tom gullikson, to whom he warned that he had stopped playing, that he required the presence on the court of the referee judge of the tournament, who made his appearance to deal with the as brilliant as a bully tennis player, who during the following days would break rackets with his knee and fight with him world.

John McEnroe was disqualified in the 1990 Australian Open, after a rule change that penalized bad behavior with expulsion at the third warning in the same match.

The ‘you cannot be serious!’ Was made into a slogan stamped on T-shirts and which also paid off McEnroe with subsequent commercials recalling the phrase.

And yes, in that 1981 history changed at Wimbledon. On June 23 he showed his bad manners, a constant in his career, and on July 4 he showed his ability with serve and volley to break Bjorn Borg’s wall.