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EXCERPT | July13, 1981
An Americansuperbrat wins his first Wimbledon
July 5, 2009
The BjornBorg--John McEnroe final was a rematch of their five-set classic at the AllEngland Club and the third installment of their Grand Slam rivalry. CurryKirkpatrick reported from Centre Court.
When it finallyended in the gathering greens and grays of a long Fourth of July afternoon, hewas alone. Just he and his racket and the ball coming shoulder high on theleft. There were no more "incompetent fools" or "disgraces tomankind" in the chair. There were no more "cheats" on the lines.There were no "vultures" in the stands, no "trash" or"liars" in the press box and none of the other persecutions, real andimagined, which had been visited upon him for a fortnight. Now it was only he,reaching out on the forehand and jabbing a volley. When the ball landed smackin the corner, clean and clear where nobody could overrule the call or replaythe point or "screw" him, he had beaten them all. Most of all, JohnMcEnroe had finally beaten the great Bjorn Borg at Wimbledon. For that he willbe remembered long after his outrageous behavior and guttersnipe quotations areforgotten.
It had taken athoroughly preposterous six Wimbledons, with Borg winning 41 straight matches,for this moment to arrive. The scores were 4--6, 7--6, 7--6, 6--4, and when theCentre Court clock struck 5:30 p.m., at the instant the championship changedhands, McEnroe looked to the sky for a moment, transfixed by what he hadaccomplished. Then he whirled to salute his family in the visitors' box.Brother Mark already had the champagne out.
McEnroe, 22 in1981, would win Wimbledon twice more and finish with seven career Grand Slamsingles titles and 10 more in doubles.
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