John McEnroe begged Wimbledon chiefs to host televised Bjorn Borg rematch on Centre Court… only to be given Court 6 | The Sun
WIMBLEDON legends John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg jokingly asked if they could practise on Centre Court for a TV stunt.
The iconic pair famously battled each other many times in the 1970s and 1980s, facing off in the 1980 and 1981 Wimbledon finals.
Swede Borg, 67, won the trophy five times in a row while American McEnroe, 64, was champion on three occasions.
Decades after their rivalry was the focal point of the sport, they have become good friends in their roles as team captains at the Laver Cup.
Yet a query about staging a ceremonial hit on the 15,000-seater premier court on the SW19 grounds was turned down by the All England Club.
SunSport understands McEnroe was shooting an episode of his “McEnroe’s Places at Wimbledon” last September.
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But an opportunity to recreate the iconic 1980 final involving the retired players was rejected because the grass had just been reseeded.
The situation was therefore turned into a stunt for the show – the pair turned up to play at Centre Court, the groundsman said no and they pretended to smash a racquet instead before heading out to Court 6.
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The revelation came out in an exchange on US TV channel ESPN during the men’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner on Friday.
Broadcaster Chris Fowler said: “I look forward to this, the latest episode from the series McEnroe’s Places on ESPN Plus. Mr Borg, kicking around memories.”
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McEnroe replied: “We did it here actually, that was a lot of fun.”
Fowler asked: “Right here on Centre Court?”
McEnroe clarified: “No, no, no. No practise on Centre Court.”
Fowler queried: “You made the request?”
And McEnroe confirmed: “Of course. How about Court 6 they said? Not quite the same, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
Though they are two of the sport’s greatest figures, it would have been extremely rare and unusual for any such exhibition event to take place during the 14-day Championships.
Tournament organisers feel that extra play outside of matches would only worsen the surface of the grass heading into the finals weekend.
Indeed, the grass is already looking bare and patchy around the baseline area as matches tend to take longer these days than 15-20 years ago when serve-and-volley was a popular tactic.
In 2022, Wimbledon allowed top tennis players to practise on Centre Court in the day leading up to the tournament.
But Djokovic, 36, is not happy with this new change, saying: “Even though it was nice for us to get a chance in the last couple of years to practise on the Centre Court before the tournament starts, I have to say I’m not a fan of that.
“I would rather have no practice at all on the Centre Court before the tournament starts. I think that would help the court.
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“It is the most sensitive surface we have in the sport.
“So you can feel the grass wearing out even after few practice sessions already, getting the beating from the sliding and running and so forth.”
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