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August 24, 2018

John McEnroe

Todd Martin

New Haven, Connecticut

THE MODERATOR: We have Todd Martin and John McEnroe here for you. We'll take the first question.

Q. There's a film that just was released called The Realm of Perfection, focuses on your 1984 year. They're calling it the highest winning percentage in the Open Era. Have you had a chance to see the film, and what did that year mean to you?
JOHN McENROE: It's a little bit tough for me to watch that film because that was one of the matches I lost, was the worst loss of my career.

Putting that aside, I thought it was cool that these people, I think they're gentlemen, put this together, put the time and effort into trying to make a movie out of this. I felt good about that.

From what I've read, I mean, I read the New York Times every day, it was on the reviewed Thursday in the front page of the Arts section. I was like, Wow. These people have come a long way from where it started. That was my greatest year.

There's a tremendous amount of great moments, a couple heartbreakers. The fact that they put something to music, sort of made this dramatic movie about in essence my movements and my attitude and my, I guess, personality I'm going to take as a sign of respect.

Q. When you were here two years ago, you compared yourself to The Who, the group is never going to retire. Are you still surprised what you're able to do?
JOHN McENROE: Sometimes. Sometimes. I never retired. They've retired like 15 times. I guess in essence we're doing the same thing.

The truth is, most of the time as you get older you realize, Hey, this is a pretty great thing you've been able to do. This is a heck of a way to make a living. You can't barely call it a job, so...

It keeps me in touch with what I do in terms of commentary, trying to stay fit. I have a tennis academy. It allows me to have the better opportunity to see what's happening with the younger kids, get on the court with them. It reinforces the idea that my days are numbered every time I play now (laughter). Each match and set may be my last one.

I've been actually trying to wean myself in a way because I've had a great run. I mean, who would have thought when I stopped playing when I was about to turn 34 I'd be playing on this champions or seniors tour the past 25 years. It's like an addiction probably. It's an unbelievable thing to be able to do and be asked to do. Hopefully I can be able to be mature enough to ride off into the sunset and you leave it to sort of the younger guys.

In that sense I've been trying to do that for a few years at least, if not longer. Hopefully there will be a successful champions and seniors tour. I think it would be great for the sport if it was at more events personally, there were perhaps 18, 16 man singles. All types of possibilities as to what could succeed.

I know what Jim Courier has been doing for many years. He's been trying valiantly in many different ways to find a format that will work.

I would be hopeful not only we could come to places, in some cases here we are at a women's tournament, we've been at some of the majors, it's more like hit-and-giggle tennis in a way, bordering on a circus at times, but we're still competing on some level.

When I first played Wimbledon, for example, they had a 35-and-over event with prize money, people took it very seriously. The second week of events like Indian Wells, Miami, the majors, there's a lot of other places where I think it could be quite useful. I think it would be good for the players to be able to continue to do it.

Q. If you were to sum up your career into one word, what would it be and why?
JOHN McENROE: I don't think I could sum it up into one word. Taking a word from the president: amazing. Did I ever lose? I don't think I ever lost a match? But I may have a short memory (laughter).

It's been quite a ride. I mean, I obviously played on the main tour for 15 years. I sort of include what I've been doing the past 25 years because I think in certain ways it's made me a better man and person, made me appreciate what I did before more actually because I was sort of disgruntled. I think when you're at the end of your actual professional career, I always refer to that old Connie Hawkins phrase: The older I get, the better I used to be.

It's frustrating not to be able to compete at the level you want to when I was competing for majors. In a situation like this, playing so many years, going through -- this was Jimmy Connors' tour, Jim Courier. Who knows what's going to happen next. It's nice to be able to bridge the gap, still be out there on some level. This is a good format for me, one set.

Q. You might have to play twice.
JOHN McENROE: Look who I'm playing. This guy is 6'6". He's on the comeback trail.

TODD MARTIN: Comeback trail (laughter).

JOHN McENROE: He hasn't played a lot of matches. Let me speak for him (laughter).

Yeah, I don't count on anything. If I play two matches, I think I can make it through two, but just to get out there and be able to play a set is great. Give it everything I got.

Q. Todd, your first and only appearance at the legends tour this season. Was it a break in your schedule or now that you know a lot about this you might start getting into more events?

JOHN McENROE: Federer wasn't available.

TODD MARTIN: It's been a few years since I competed. It will feel like a few years since I competed. I'll probably look like the guy who is nearly 60, and I will look like the guy who is still in his 40s. But I'm a desk jockey now. I don't get out on the court nearly as much. I don't have access to great competition like John does.

It's fun for me. It's fun to help out a fellow New England tournament, be able to be supportive of tennis in the area. For sure, John and I share a very common belief in the strength of senior tennis, providing different content to audiences wherever those audiences are.

We hosted an Invesco Series event in Newport during the Hall of Fame. This is great. The best way it can be is when it's truly competitive. I never played John when I was on tour, when we were on tour together, but we started playing each other regularly in the champions series stuff. Some of the most fun I've had on a tennis court in the last 14 years since I retired.

Q. Do you try to poke John a little bit, get the old Johnny Mack out there tonight?
TODD MARTIN: I don't think I need to do a thing to stimulate the old Johnny Mack. He's the master of his own domain. I would love to be able to equip myself well enough to where John actually got fired up. I'm not very confident of being able to do that, though.

Q. Hit-and-giggle tennis, is that hard to do when you've been such a competitor all your life?
JOHN McENROE: This I can answer in one word: yes. But we're playing when we're out there playing the singles. What I was referring to is some of these doubles at Wimbledon, the French. No one wants to lose. But you do get a better understanding of why you're out there. You do appreciate that you're trying to entertain as well. It's not as if you're trying to win Wimbledon or the US Open. It's a different situation.

From that standpoint, it's understandable and easier. For me, when I get out on a tennis court, it's sort of like I turn into sort of a different person in a way. It's hard to sort of hit and giggle your way, me, through anything. I can't even do that in a practice session.

Q. Is it in you once it's in you?
JOHN McENROE: I would certainly think so, yeah.

TODD MARTIN: It's gone for me (smiling). But it's a matter of environment. John has maintained presence in the environment. Yeah, when I stayed in the environment, I loved it. If I only played five matches a year, I loved every one of them. But most of my tennis now is customer tennis, so it has to be different for me. I have practiced a little bit, so watch out.

It will be interesting to see. I'll get nervous tonight, for sure. Some of that will be nervous not to lose to John, some of that will be nervous not to embarrass myself publicly, yeah.

Q. Is that like blood in the water for you, John?
JOHN McENROE: That's just a bunch of excuses basically. That could be a setup.

TODD MARTIN: It's all a setup.

JOHN McENROE: I think anyone, but to speak for myself, to step on a court, you get nervous. You want to be able to perform at some level. People expect certain things.

Ultimately, if you go out there, for me, I yell at an official, ham it up a little bit, but I don't perform, I would be disappointed. I feel like there's no point in doing it if I don't feel like on some level I'm doing something with a tennis ball that people would appreciate, otherwise it makes no sense. I can do that, play doubles, be Bahrami's partner for the next couple years, be his sidekick. I always have that option available. Maybe I don't, because I'm sure there's a long list of people that want to be with him.

Q. Today it was announced that Serena Williams is banned from wearing her French cat suit at the French Open. What is your reaction to that?
JOHN McENROE: Why? That would be my reaction. I don't know. If she wants to wear it, if she thinks that's making a statement. From what I understood from the Nike people: She's really trying to make a statement with this. This is what they told me at the French. You really have to look at this. I'm like, Wow, that's got to be pretty hot, I would think, for starters. It was pretty hot at the French and Wimbledon, too.

Me personally, when you wear black, it keeps in the heat. Just from purely that standpoint, it would be tough. It's like the cat suit she wore I can't remember how many years ago, pretty much the same thing, I think. Cat Suit II or something. Usually the sequels aren't as good as the originals.

The fact she did it after she had her child, she was trying to make a statement there. I think she was able to succeed with that.

Q. Do you think the French should be a little bit more open-minded in terms of the changing of the guard with people wearing different outfits?
JOHN McENROE: The French? The French banned it or the US Open?

Q. The French.
JOHN McENROE: Next year?

Q. Yes.
JOHN McENROE: They might turn her off from playing. They better be careful. I'm surprised. The French, to me, they embrace that. That doesn't make sense to me.

Q. Speaking of Serena Williams, there's a report this summer that you were offered a million dollars to play her.
JOHN McENROE: That was 20 years ago. With inflation, that's now $10 million.

Q. Your price has gone up?
JOHN McENROE: I think both our prices have gone up, yeah, at this point.

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