-How are you? -I am exhilarated to be here. -I thank you very much. -Right. Exhausted little bit
from the last couple weeks. But it ended with a blast. I mean, it was amazing match
in the final. And Serena got to the final. So that was good.
-It was a great U.S. Open. It’s obviously very exciting
to have tennis in New York City. You mentioned both exhilaration
and exhaustion. And I feel like that must been
what it felt like on Sunday night
with a five-hour men’s final. You were in the booth
with your brother, Patrick. -Yes.
-Do you ever — Did you feel an exhaustion
sitting in on yourself, or did you feel the excitement
of the match? -I have — If you get exhausted watching
two guys battle like that, there’s something wrong
with you. You’re a little
sick in the head. -Yeah.
-And for us, you know, the men, to go at it like that,
I mean, I’ve played matches — a couple matches longer
than that, so I get it, and I respect it. So I was having a great time. We know there’s a tie breaker in
the fifth set. So it could only go
another 20, 30 minutes. What’s another half-hour?
So it was — It ended great. -And what — Do you feel like
the energy in New York City for a match like that is
different than any other place where you have a major final
like this? -Without question. Did anyone see the final? [ Cheers and applause ] I was lucky enough to be part
of five U.S. Open finals. And that may have been one of
the loudest, if not the loudest, when this, you know, Medvedev,
this Russian guy, came back and took it
to a fifth set. So it inspires the players,
obviously. It’s absolutely incredible. We need a shot in the arm
for our sport. We — The women are doing well. [ Light applause ]
But, you know, the men, the — Thank you.
-[ Laughs ] [ Cheers and applause ] I do have four daughters
and two boys. So I — You know,
how much it means now that the playing field
is more level in women’s game in our sport
than any other sport. You know, you talked about —
I’ve heard that soccer joke. -Yeah.
-That was just — the previous —
-Yeah, yeah. -Basketball.
There’s no football. You know, they’re getting paid
1/20th, 1/50th what the men do. In tennis, exactly the same.
Equal prize money. [ Cheers and applause ]
-What — if you were — Very — Absolutely true. And it’s exactly as exciting
going into the finals. And there were two great stories
this year. You mention the men
need a shot in the arm. What do you think it is that’s lacking right now
for the men’s game? -Well, I think that our best
athletes have a tendency to play American football
and basketball, obviously. So we have — we need
to do a better job giving more kids
the opportunity to play. It’s too expensive. You know, I have a tennis
academy at Randall’s Island. I try to raise money
with the charity. Get as many kids as possible. It’s got to be
a cool factor, too. I think we had that a bit
in the ’70s and ’80s when I was playing,
not just because I was playing. -Yeah, well,
but let’s be honest, yeah. [ Laughter ] Well, one thing we were
talking about earlier today, knowing you were coming
on the show, you know, I feel like the prime
of a tennis player in the ’70s was a lot shorter
than it is now. You know, it just seems like the way health
and fitness has changed, the way even the equipment
has changed. For a shorter period of time that guys in the ’70s
were playing, you had such a huge impact
on the game. And I do feel like
there was a huge cool factor to what you were all doing.
-I think we were the doing — the problem we were doing — we were performance
detracting drugs. -Yeah, yeah, performance — Yeah, nothing you were doing
made you better at tennis. -We tried to burn a candle
at both ends. And, you know,
it works for a while. But it catches up to you
a little sooner. These guys are incredible.
They got great teams. People understand how to recover
quicker, et cetera. But that was a great time
in tennis. There was a lot of personality. You need that
in a one-on-one sport. That’s why people gravitate
toward this Medvedev guy. -Yeah.
-He embraced being the bad guy, which is something
that I sort of wish Djokovic would do
a little bit more of, play the villain.
We need a villain. I know nothing
about being a villain. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] But, you know, he — and people, the fans
got behind him at the end. -You — Of course you were —
You were literally — the fact that you were known for
a little bit of bad behavior. Was it ever — [ Laughter ]
-Just a little bit. -Was it genuinely that you were losing a temper
you couldn’t control? Or was there some
gamesmanship to it? Was it a strategy to get
in the head of your opponent by losing your temper
with, say, the judge? -Well, if all it takes to get
in the head of an opponent is you getting — telling
a judge that he sucks, okay. -Yeah. -What are the odds of the umpire
giving me the next call? I mean, if you tell this guy
he’s a bum, you know, the next — he’s going to go,
“I’ll show that McEnroe.” So, to me, that was sour grapes
if that’s all it took. -Right, right.
-With all that goes on — like, say in a football game
on Sunday, you think they’re saying, “Hello.
How are you?” on the field? Or basketball?
There’s a lot of trash-talking. We used to do more of that. I’d like to see a little bit
more in the tennis. [ Laughter ] -So there was
genuine trash talk. Of course, one of your rivals —
Bjorn Borg, there you are there. And he is genuinely
a dear friend of yours now, yes? -I love him.
Hopefully, he loves me. He’s probably —
He’s probably the only guy that I didn’t have problems with
on the court. -Oh, so you never
had an issue with him? -We never had a problem. He took me, you know,
under his wing, in a way. And I got respect
because of that. ‘Cause he was already,
like, a god. You know, he was like Federer
at the time. You know, everyone loved him. And he was this
great-looking guy. Dressed right.
The girls loved him. So I was like,
“I want to be like him.” -And he was the only guy
who was nice to you. Do you feel like that means he
was a good judge of character or just a bad judge? Was it a blind spot that he was like,
“I like this McEnroe kid”? -What do you think? [ Laughter ] -So, the first time
you go to Wimbledon, is it — Are you 17 years old? Are you — -I was 18 the first time I went.
-18 years old. -And you talked about
how guys have great teams now. And there’s — You know,
nutrition has, obviously, advanced so much.
But what was it like — The tour did not take care
of you in the same way then as it does now.
-No. -You know, it was an incredible
time in England in the ’70s. You know, punk was breaking out. People were getting on me. You know, it was like
oil and water. Me, a New York kid. I mean, you’re screaming
and yelling all the time. People are, you know — They
give you their opinion, right? Over there,
they’re much more reserved. They’re very proper. I was like, “What’s wrong
with these people?” -[ Laughs ] Yeah. -“You know, they’re so
well behaved here.” And so, you know,
we clashed right away. But I got a lot of support.
I got to say, like, if you walked down
the equivalent of, well, I don’t know what street
you can — Kings Road in London. It would be Lexington.
I don’t know. -Yeah.
-And they got a lot of support. There was, like, some
freaky people around. But they were supportive. The establishment
and the papers, which were owned
by Rupert Murdoch — You may know him —
-Yeah. -They were giving me
a very hard time. And there’s a lot more
newspapers in London than there are here. There was 15 local papers. So that makes it where
they looking to get you. -Did you —
Were you somebody that — You know, you’re 18 years old.
And you were supposed to — Your first run to, I think, the semifinals?
-Semifinals. -So that was kind of
unexpected, right? You were actually supposed to be
there to play in the juniors. You end going on
a sort of unexpected run. Were you somebody then
who would read the paper? I mean, you’re in London
having this incredible run. You’re 18 years old.
-Initially, I read it. I thought it was
the funniest thing ever. I thought,
“These people don’t get it. What’s their problem?
I’m the one out there. You know, how — Why are they
reacting this way?” But when I came home,
and everyone was like, “Hey, you the brat that —
you know, jerk that” — and I’m like, “What do you mean?
I’m the same person.” So it just — you know, actually, that completely
changed my life, you know, that first trip
to Europe and then in London. And it just got — It went on
from there for about five years till I finally won the event. -Yeah. So that’s ’81 you went — -I said, “I’m never coming back
to this Goddamn place again.” “These people
are so full of it.” [ Laughter ]
-Is this Wimbledon? Is this winning at Wimbledon?
-That’s my first Wimbledon. -There you go.
-Yeah. Yay! -Yeah, there you go. [ Cheers and applause ] -It was a long time ago.
-It was a long time ago.