John McEnroe stood by his controversial comments about Emma Raducanu, where he hinted that he was unable to “manage” them at last year’s Wimbledon, and added that he was also struggling to cope with the pressure as a young player.
Seven-time champion McEnroe was heavily criticized last year during the Championships for implying that Raducanu had collapsed under pressure after retiring from her fourth-round fight at Center Court due to respiratory problems.
However, just days before Wimbledon kicked off, he reiterated that he had no regrets about commenting on the US Open champion and said they had contributed to a major debate about the players’ mental well-being.
“I would not say anything different,” he told reporters. “I’ve never met Emma, I’ll have to add that. I would like to at some point, obviously. the first person to happen to her.Especially with mental health coming to the fore.Naomi Osaka had mental health problems.
“When I was playing you had to grit your teeth and grit your teeth, harden it and things like that. Now it becomes more of a topic of discussion, rightly so. Many times for these young boys and girls, it’s a lot to deal with when they’re not prepared. It will continue to happen.Simona Halep said she suffered the first panic attack of her life playing in French [Open]. If nothing else, I was trying to be supportive [Raducanu] somehow, without knowing exactly what was going on. And I felt bad for her. I was surprised that he managed to get out of it and suddenly win the US Open. This takes it to a whole other level. I’m on her side, just for the sake of the game I would like to see her reach her potential “.
McEnroe, 63, was no stranger to the limelight as a player and said it could be related to the pressure Raducanu experienced during her shock appearance at Wimbledon last summer.
Before the British tennis star returned on Monday, he likened the moment to his decision to miss the 1986 and 1987 tournaments – in part because of his mental health: “I try to be as honest as possible. [in commentary], I will keep trying to do that. The sport has given me a lot and I try to … give free advice if they are willing to listen to it. I went through things [as a player]at times I was shocked.
“I did not play at Wimbledon for two years. I felt it was too much for me. We do not sit down and discuss it so often. I wish I had done it now? No, I wish I had played Somehow I left two chances to play … “Maybe some of them were stubborn, some of them may have been stupid, but some of them were because I felt they were too much for me to handle.”
McEnroe also commented on how he would feel to cover Wimbledon next week without six-time champion and fellow expert Boris Becker with him.
“It’s a parody no matter how you look at it”
Becker was sentenced in April to two years and nine months in prison for hiding και 2.5 million worth of assets and loans to avoid paying off debts. He was transferred to HMP Huntercombe in Oxfordshire last month and McEnroe said he hoped to visit him.
“Boris is my friend, that’s just awful,” McEnroe said. “I do not know where he is. I think he was taken somewhere, I want to see him if I can, if he is willing to see people or he can. I just feel awful.
“He’s one of the great players who has ever played the game. He’s been through a long time. He kept telling me he would be okay, you know, he’s in control. This is Boris, he was a very confident player on the pitch. “Necessarily a great investor, you do not take care of your money off the field … But I do not know if any of us expected that he would reach this point honestly. It is a travesty as you can see.”
John McEnroe is part of the BBC Wimbledon 2022 lineup. Watch all the action on BBC television, radio and the internet from Monday 27 June