“Who was this curly-haired upstart, this stubborn boy, this nobody to disturb decency?” – When John McEnroe was first booed at Wimbledon in 1977

Although John McEnroe was known as one of the greatest entertainers during his playing days, he was also berated by a large segment of tennis fans for his on-court antics, much like Nick Kyrgios.

Arguably the most outspoken player in the sport’s history, McEnroe was never afraid to express his frustration to on-game officials, his opponents and the crowd. Similarly, the seven-time Grand Slam champion, who consulted 37 psychologists and psychiatrists over his anger issues, has been demanding regular fines and suspensions for offenses including racquet abuse.

The American legend, nicknamed “Superbrat,” reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1977, a tournament in which he competed as a qualifier, in only his second Grand Slam appearance.

In his book “You can’t be serious’ The 64-year-old recalled the time he was booed for the first time in his career – during his quarter-final match against Australia’s Phil Dent.

“I thought I had Dent figured out. I won the first set pretty easily, 6-4, but he dug in in the second set and I lost a tiebreak,” said John McEnroe. “I was mad at myself and to be honest I was starting to get a little nervous deep down. I’ve never been a great player coming from behind.”

McEnroe recalled breaking his racquet after losing the second set, causing the crowd to turn against him.

“When I fall behind, the doubts come. So when we were about to switch sides after the tiebreak, I put my Wilson Pro Staff racquet under my sneaker and tried to bend it until it broke. And so big, close-in, well-behaved English crowd booed me. ‘Who was this curly-haired upstart, this stubborn boy, this nobody to disturb the decency of Court One?’” he added.

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The then only 18-year-old cult player said that the boos only amused him. He won the match 6-4, 8-9, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 before losing to Jimmy Connors in the semifinals.

“It was the first time I’ve been booed. I was like, ‘This is funny’. Instead of picking up my bat, I kicked it across the grass as I walked to my chair. The boos got louder. The English were quite it upset with me, but I have to tell you that at that moment I was mainly feeling amused,” he concluded.

After John McEnroe, Carlos Alcaraz is the second fastest man to reach 100 match wins

John McEnroe and Carlos Alcaraz at the US Open 2022

With a win over Tallon Griekspoor in the third round of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Carlos Alcaraz became the second fastest man after John McEnroe to win 100 matches at tour level.

The Spaniard managed the feat in 132 games while McEnroe managed it in 131 – a testament to how good the American icon was in his early days. Andre Agassi (135) and Rafael Nadal (137) are third and fourth respectively.

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