Congratulations to Curry Kirkpatrick on an exceptionally objective article on new Wimbledon king John McEnroe and the 1981 tournament (His Earth, His Realm, His England, July 13). The public should be made aware not only of McEnroe's behavior, which has received enough press, but also of the other side of the picture, the often strict, sometimes unnecessary and overbearing rules and regulations imposed on the competitors by the All England Club. This code of conduct is the reason why some people regard Wimbledon as a long-faced institution composed of officials more involved in tradition than in the enjoyment of the sport itself.
Of course, McEnroe's actions were clearly out of place, but for all his name-calling and tantrums, no one will quickly forget the pressure, insults and anguish lie endured to play an impeccable final match and win the Wimbledon title and the admiration of the world.
CHRISTOPHER R. FRANK
Mont Vernon, N.H.
Being a college tennis player, I know how one bad call can turn a match around. John McEnroe competes against the best players in the world, and many times one point can be the difference between winning and losing. It's a wonder he was even able to play in England with all the pressure put on him by the British press and people. They think he's nasty; they think he's a brat. I think he's the best tennis player in the world.
MICHAEL J. GONSALVES
McEnroe's manners may not be perfect, but his game is. And that's all that counts.
I watched a good bit of Wimbledon tennis on television and enjoyed the high level of play very much. However, I was sorry to see the way John McEnroe handled himself at times, especially during the postmatch interview. He said, in so many words, "The bottom line is I won the tournament."
Maybe my negative reaction to that sort of thinking is out of tune, what with the tremendous amount of exposure and money involved in sports at the professional level. We all give lip service to sportsmanship, but more and more the bottom line seems to be "I won!" It's disturbing to see this philosophy become so much a part of athletics, even in high school and in youth leagues. Is McEnroe merely expressing the pervading outlook on sport?
I don't mean to sit in judgment of McEnroe, having never been under the kind of pressure he was subjected to by fans, press, opponents and prize money. I only hope that my sons will not emulate his reaction to pressure, no matter what the magnitude.
JOHN A. BARR
So John McEnroe is the 1981 Wimbledon men's singles champion. Unfortunately, until and unless he can learn to clean up his act and grow up, he will remain what he is: a very good tennis player who takes away more from the game with his boorish behavior than he gives to it with his great play. Right now McEnroe is the ultimate Ugly American.
After reading your July 6 SCORECARD item on tennis misbehavior, it occurs to me that Wimbledon is the one tournament with the horsepower to take on the prima donnas. It has survived the exodus of professionals in the 1950s; it has endured most of the rigors of open tennis (so far); it was able to carry on through the men's boycott in 1973; it outlasted Ilie Nastase; and it will surely still be a respected and cherished institution long after John McEnroe is gone.
It's clear to me that Wimbledon can and must assert itself even more forcefully in dealing with competitors who won't play by the rules. And so should SI do its part—in even stronger terms!
ROBERT E. TURRENTINE