Watch out for this one on HBO!
HBO SPORTS® DOCUMENTARY McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE, CHRONICLING ONE OF THE GREATEST TENNIS RIVALRIES OF ALL TIME, DEBUTS JUNE 11, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
Thirty-one years after the stirring Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final that earned John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg a place among history’s great sports battles, HBO Sports looks back at their unforgettable rivalry of the ‘70s and ‘80s when the documentary McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE debuts SATURDAY, JUNE 11 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT & 9:00 p.m. CT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: June 11 (12:05 a.m.), 14 (9:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m.), 17 (7:00 p.m.), 18 (9:30 a.m.), 19 (12:30 p.m.), 23 (5:05 a.m.), 24 (12:30 p.m.), 26 (11:30 a.m.), 29 (5:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.) and 30 (11:55 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: June 12 (9:30 a.m., 10:00 p.m.), 20 (noon, 11:00 p.m.), 22 (7:30 a.m.) and 30 (11:00 a.m.)
HBO On Demand availability: June 13-July 4
The film chronicles their back stories, prolific tennis careers and spirited rivalry, which propelled tennis into the international sports headlines of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In addition, McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE spotlights their post-tennis careers as the two men went their separate ways, with McEnroe launching a high-profile broadcasting career, while Borg chose a more private life.
Born Feb. 16, 1959 in Wiesbaden, Germany to Americans Kay and John Sr., who was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force, John Patrick McEnroe, Jr. was the fire to Bjorn Borg’s ice. McEnroe’s fierce passion for the game earned him seven Grand Slam singles titles, but also sparked intense criticism from those offended by his berating of umpires, fans and line judges. Although controversy followed McEnroe throughout his career, his talent, artistry and exquisite timing made him one of the best players of his generation.
In stark contrast, Bjorn Borg’s icy stoicism was a trademark of his dazzling career. Born June 6, 1956 in Sodertaljie, Sweden, he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles at a time when Hall of Fame players such as Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe were also in their prime. A master of the grass court, Borg won five straight Wimbledon championships from 1976 to 1980, establishing himself as one of the all-time greats. But his unrelenting mental and physical training regimen took its toll: Instead of embracing the rivalry he’d begun with McEnroe, Borg walked away from the sport when he was just 26, leaving the tennis world to wonder why.
Their most memorable match decided the 1980 Wimbledon men’s singles championship. Boasting an unbending ground game, Borg was attempting a fifth straight win, while McEnroe relied on a renowned serve and volley attack in pursuit of his first title. McEnroe easily took the first set, but Borg fought back to win the next two. The fourth set produced one of the sport’s finest hours, with McEnroe denying Borg seven match points, including five in the 18-16 tiebreaker, but Borg recovered to win 8-6 in the fifth.
This exclusive “Legends & Legacies” presentation features HBO Sports’ acclaimed combination of rare footage, archival photos and revealing interviews. In addition to McEnroe and Borg, interviewees include: brother Patrick McEnroe; Peter Fleming, McEnroe’s doubles partner; journalists Mike Lupica, Bud Collins, Charley Steiner and Peter Bodo; Tony Palafox, McEnroe’s coach; Percy Rosberg, Borg’s coach; former Swedish women’s player Ingrid Bentzer; former Wimbledon chair umpire George Grime; British journalists Malcolm Folley and Tim Adams; and Swedish journalist Lennart Eriksson.
HBO Sports’ documentary unit has earned 31 Sports Emmy Awards®, including the Outstanding Documentary award each of the last four years, and has received nine Peabody Awards, including one for the 2010 presentation “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.”
The executive producers of McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE are Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein; producer, Margaret Grossi; interviewer and story editor, Mary Carillo; writer, Aaron Cohen; narrator, Liev Schreiber; editor, Jeff Reilly; music composed by Gary Lionelli.
Highlights of McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE:
John McEnroe on his development as a junior tennis player: “I was taught really well. Tony Palafox and Harry Hopman instilled in me how mental the game was.”
Former McEnroe doubles partner Mary Carillo: “Harry Hopman…was a fabled disciplinarian. This is a man who trained Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. And John just never liked that part of the program. He would play pretty much on his terms, and Mr. Hopman would let John slide on that.”
John McEnroe: “I wasn’t looking to cause trouble. I just was looking to get on the court.”
Former tennis star Peter Fleming: “One of the pros was talking about this kid McEnroe, 12-year-old kid. I was 16 at the time and we said, ‘Alright, fine. Let’s set up a bet and I’ll whip him.’ We played five sets. I didn’t win one of ‘em.”
John McEnroe on seeing Bjorn Borg: “I’d never seen a tennis player look like this. He had this sort of perfect Viking godlike look, and I certainly wanted to get the same type of things that he seemed to be getting, which was a lot of interest and a lot of girls. It was like, ‘Whoa, being a tennis player’s really cool.’ ”
John McEnroe on his aggressive style when he arrived at Wimbledon as an 18-year-old in 1977: “I tried to snap my racquet when I lost the second set. Why are people booing me if I try to break my racquet? So when that happened, I thought, ‘Ok, let me just see what happens if I kick it.’ That provokes a reaction.”
British author Malcolm Folley: “His behavior was eccentric to the point of being anguished. He sought perfection from his own tennis, and everybody around him had better be in a perfect mode as well.”
Journalist Mike Lupica: “Here came a son of anarchy that nobody was prepared for. It was Hurricane John.”
John McEnroe: “I wasn’t totally convinced that this is the path I would have chosen had I been able to choose anything I wanted. I at least was smart enough to realize that this is like a golden opportunity. You could make money. You could be an athlete. So I thought, ‘I gotta make the most of this.’ ”
John McEnroe on the burgeoning rivalry with Borg: “The least I could do was to try a little harder when I was playing him. I had to be on my best behavior, plus I respected him.”
John McEnroe: “I think everyone wanted to look like Bjorn. Certainly he had the cool clothes and the sweet headband and the great locks.”
Bjorn Borg: “I think the strongest part of my game was the mental and physical strength I had. You know, I had never been tired in a tennis match.”
British author Tim Adams: “Borg had this incredibly regimented preparation. He’d sleep for ten hours a night at a certain temperature, naked. And they’d always drive the same route to the tournament. He sat in the same chair, had the same two towels next to him. He’d lay out 50 racquets and he’d test the tension of each — be in sort of perfect musical pitch — and he’d select the racquets for each match.”
Mike Lupica: “This is not exactly an Ultimate Fighting crowd there. This is Centre Court, Wimbledon, All England Club. They booed him [McEnroe].”
John McEnroe: “So what? That’s just all the more incentive to shut ‘em down.”
Bjorn Borg on the historic 1980 Wimbledon Finals: “To lose the fourth set that was the worst moment and one set later was my best moment in my life as a tennis player.”
John McEnroe: “I was absolutely disgusted that I didn’t win that match. It was a giveaway as far as I was concerned. Thankfully, it was a historical match.”
John McEnroe: “But it wasn’t just me — it was both of us. In a way I love every minute of that. The fact that I can always share this with Bjorn.”
Bjorn Borg: “That’s a match I will remember the rest of my life. For both me and John, people coming up and they talk about the tiebreaker. That’s what people remember.”
Mike Lupica: “It almost became like urban legend: ‘Did you hear about the tiebreaker? Did you see the tiebreaker?’ And Borg-McEnroe had been joined.”
Bjorn Borg on the seniors’ tour: “And that’s exactly a perfect fit. John came in. That was a great thing for me.”
John McEnroe: “Not only did it help him, it helped me, being around my great rivals.”
John McEnroe: “Just being around Bjorn, and the matches we had, lifted me as a player and as a person.”
Bjorn Borg: “We know each other, me and John, very well, because we are two rebels. We’re gonna do it in this way, our own way. John is always gonna mean something deep inside my heart.”