It’s been a busy few weeks for John McEnroe.
He enraged the progressive virtual-signalers with his benign response to a direct question about Serena Williams compared to men’s professional players.
He kicked the hornet’s nest again when he drew a different type of comparison.
McEnroe compared struggling tennis superstar Novak Djokovic to the embattled Tiger Woods.
Rumors have swirled that Djokovic’s personal life is in shambles; he allegedly cheated on his wife while she was pregnant.
Nothing has been confirmed, but questions were raised when Djokovic lost a singles match to Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Djokovic was off his game, then broke down and cried on the court after the match. The rest of his 2016 season was marred with early exits and injuries.
eemed to go completely off the rails and has never been even close to being the same player. So, we’re starting to say: ‘Wait a minute, is this possible with him [Djokovic]?'”
Asked about the comments after Thursday’s match, Djokovic declined to climb into the muck. “John has a complete right to say — anybody, really, in the world — has a right to say what they want, and I respect that right. … He’s somebody that has earned that right because of who he is and what he has meant to the sport. … I really don’t take it in a negative way. … I don’t necessarily need to agree with it, but it’s his right.”
In professional tennis, the top players once seemed to live a much more self-reliant existence. Now, even among the middle ranks, it’s all about the coaches and the co-coaches and the physical trainers and the strategy consultants, plus various other assorted agents and hangers-on. It’s about the “support team” — and no doubt the lanky Serb’s changes in that area provide a real area of intrigue.
Longtime coach Marian Vajda was canned. After a successful three years, Boris Becker was kicked to the curb. Over the past year, Djokovic steadily shed his longtime backers. He sought solace in a controversial tennis coach who few on tour had ever heard of, Pepe Imaz — a long-locked Spaniard who has spoken more about love and peace than the single-minded, kill-or-be-killed thirst to win.
Then came the last 12 months. The buzz is gone. Expectations are dimmed. There’s worry he will never be the same.
It’s unfortunate for Tiger Woods that he has become synonymous with great athletes falling off precipitously due to personal life turmoil.
Nobody knows if Djokovic’s personal struggles line up exactly with Woods, i.e. serial infidelity, but something was clearly wrong, and he has been linked to various women.
Djokovic is playing better at this year’s Wimbledon, so hopefully, for his sake he won’t befall the same plight as Tiger Woods.