Borg-McEnroe: The 1980 Wimbledon Final
My first distinct tennis memory from the professional levels of the game was the 1982 Wimbledon final in which Jimmy Connors upended John McEnroe in 5 sets. I did not start following tennis until Boris Becker won Wimbledon 1985. So the 1980 Wimbledon final has always held a bit of an unknown quality for me. I saw the 4th set tiebreak/War of 18-16 at every rain delay for many years. I knew Borg won the match and McEnroe won the tiebreak. Seeing a score line of 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16), 8-6 was always epic. Knowing that Borg won 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles was a big deal.
Some Stars Shine Forever: True, but some Mouths Speak Forever too
Borg and McEnroe’s rivalry hit during a tennis boom. My preliminary thoughts about this film center around the idea that other tennis stories might deserve a feature film before this story. There was and is a mystique to Bjorn Borg. McEnroe is a tennis player who general sports fans in the US know and has been a voice in the broadcast booth since 1992. I can see why a film would be made about these two and their most iconic match. I could also see films being made about Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert’s lengthy rivalry. Jimmy Connors’ 1991 run could also be a movie. Each of these topics were covered by ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Of course, the Battle of the Sexes is the basis of several screenplays and one nearly completed film. Andre Agassi’s Open, Boris Becker’s ups and downs etc. could all be made into movies. Finally, the Williams Sisters, the triumvirate on the men’s tour of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, Andy Murray conquering Wimbledon, and even Goran Ivanisevic’s quest to win Wimbledon could all spawn many scripts.
I am not against tennis movies being made. I am just not sure which stories should be greenlit. This choice seems odd to me due to John McEnroe’s general overexposure. I’ve read and enjoyed You Cannot Be Serious and listened to his views for 25 years as a broadcaster. He has recently ruffled Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic’s feathers with controversial takes. From his quest to become US Davis Cup captain to a rocky 1 year tenure in that position have led to some skepticism on my part about what value McEnroe’s omnipresence in the sport brings to tennis. At the French Open, McEnroe was calling a match and said, “What is she ranked?” Not knowing basic information about players he is commenting on is another cause for being skeptical of McEnroe’s value. Hence a movie with him as a key player is not at the top of my list of interests. Still, it is a movie about an epic Wimbledon final so I have some interest in the film.
My Reaction to the Trailer
A few impressions are left. Bjorn Borg’s back story jumps out at me as being quite interesting. Borg was said to have a mystique and his post-playing career has not been nearly as intertwined with the tennis world as McEnroe’s. The film can shed some interesting light on Borg. The tennis scenes look reasonably good. Sports movies often have a hard time replicating the actual sport on-screen. Tennis seems to be particularly tricky to recreate fictionally. This looks promising. The idea of the driven athlete versus a temperamental genius trying to take his throne is a plot that should draw some interest. My basic reaction to the trailer is that I will likely watch this film. The thing is that was likely before the trailer. I am only mildly more interested in the movie than I was before viewing. It was a good trailer, but I am an easy sell for tennis related movies, documentaries, and books.
One Other Thing – Running for your Life from Shia LaBeouf
I can’t unsee this. Some of my former students told me about this earlier in 2017. I had no idea Shia LaBeouf would be playing John McEnroe when I saw this. Still, will I be thinking of his portrayal of the Superbrat or of a cannibal while watching Borg-McEnroe?