McEnroe, a documentary about tennis iconoclast John McEnroe, premieres on Showtime Sunday, September 4. The film is currently available on streaming and on demand for subscribers.
Showtime has shared a 3:25 minute clip of the film, depicting McEnroe’s 1981 Wimbledon victory, facing off with Bjorn Borg in the final, and the American skipping the subsequent Champions' Dinner.
“McEnroe takes viewers inside the mind of one of the most controversial tennis players in the history of the sport as he traverses the streets of New York City over the course of a single night, retracing his life in previously unseen archival footage,” according to Showtime. “From his upbringing in Douglaston, N.Y., to a Wimbledon semifinals run as an 18-year-old qualifier, to his sole year at Stanford University winning the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships and his Hall of Fame professional career where he captured seven Grand Slam singles titles, the documentary covers everything inside and outside the lines.”
Bjorn Borg, Billie Jean King, Chrissie Hynde and Keith Richards are among those who share their perspective on McEnroe in the film.
“The complexity, intensity and depth of John’s multifaceted persona makes this film transcend from sports documentary to character study,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime president of sports and event programming. “John McEnroe is not just a tennis great; he is a true icon whose career created cultural touchstones and captured the world’s fascination.”
Barney Douglas directed McEnroe and Simon Lazenby, Oli Harbottle and Gary Swain are the executive producers. Sylver Entertainment produced the film.
Showtime said the movie goes “beyond sports biopic and into the realm of the deeply confessional.”
McEnroe was notorious for blowing up at tennis umpires.
“Greatness is a combination of things,” said McEnroe as the film begins. “You look back and you say, ‘Well, someone gave me an ability to do something better than others.’ You have to recognize that and put yourself on the line. Especially when you’re out there by yourself. And I didn’t do a good enough job of that. In fact, I did a sh---y job of it. I’m the greatest player who’s ever played the game, at this point. Why does it not feel that amazing? I felt like I was doomed.” ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.