McEnroe Defaulted in Senior Tennis After Abusing Umpire, Crowd
by Richard Vach | August 14th, 2008, 8:10 pm

John McEnroe lifted his angry on-court persona to new heights on Thursday at a senior tour event in Newport — swearing at and gesturing obscenely at the crowd and the chair umpire before becoming the first player to be defaulted at an Outback Champions Series event.

“Has anything changed?” said opponent MaliVai Washington. “I guess he has one of those explosive personalities, you could say. There are a lot of things I can deal with, disputed line calls, stoppage in play. I have an issue when my opponent starts berating people, fans, and umpires. I said something to the official. As players, we are in control of the match. Officials are in charge of the integrity of the game.”

McEnroe won the first set 6-3 and was trailing 2-4 in the second when, arguing a line call, McEnroe was issued a code violation for an audible obscenity. Things snowballed from there, and as McEnroe tore into the chair umpire and fought with the booing crowd, he eventually went through all four steps on the match-default process.

“All players must abide by the same rules,” said Venison. “Umpires tend to be intimated by John which generally means they are more lenient with him. He crossed the line today. We are dealing with a group of extremely competitive guys, and John is one of them. He agreed to the first three code violations, but disagreed with the fourth (for an obscene gesture). John said that he did not do it, and the umpire said he 100 percent categorically saw it. We have to go with the umpire’s ruling.”

McEnroe did not meet with press afterwards, but will reportedly still compete in his round-robin matches.

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16 Comments for McEnroe Defaulted in Senior Tennis After Abusing Umpire, Crowd

Shital Green Says:

Ref: The umpire “disagreed with the fourth (for an obscene gesture). John said that he did not do it, and the umpire said he 100 percent categorically saw it. We have to go with the umpire’s ruling.”

I disagree with the umpire because obviously his 4th call was based on the previous three violations. I am not defending JMac’s 3 violations. If you have a clean record, minor offenses are overlooked. Tennis Rule Book does not say it follows something like Three Strike law of California. This is sad, but this is how the institution works in practice.

I’s like to hear your take on this.

Mary Says:

McEnroe is way too old for these antics.

Richard Vach Says:


I believe the fourth violation was based on the chair umpire seeing Johnny Mac’s middle finger gestured toward the crowd — not based on the three previous violations. The Outback senior tour has a four-strike system. I’d like to see some YouTube video of that, from accounts it sounded like he just went bat****.

jane Says:

I was reserving comment for precisely that reason; I too would like to see the outburst with my own eyes. I have no doubt it occurred (what else is new with Mac?) but it’s surprising it went so far.

Hypnos Says:

If I were Johnny Mac’s kid, I would be embarrassed. Losing self-awareness and self-control is always ugly, esp. for such a sharp guy.

Mary Says:

This is from the Outback site:
“The series of events that lead to McEnroe’s dismissal came after McEnroe won the first set 6-3 and with Washington serving at 4-2, ad-in, in the second set in the opening round-robin match for both players. Arguing a line-call, McEnroe was issued a code violation warning for an audible obscenity by chair umpire Ray Brodeur. McEnroe continued his tirade against Brodeur and was issued consecutive abuse of official code violations. According to the Outback Champions Series Code of Conduct, match defaults are a four-step process, with the first violation resulting in a warning. The second violation results in a point penalty, a third violation – a game penalty and a fourth violation – a match default. McEnroe’s three violations gave Washington the second set 6-2 (the point penalty giving Washington the game for a 5-2 lead and the game penalty giving him the set by a 6-2 margin.) As McEnroe continued his tirade, fans at the Newport Casino became vocal and restless and began to yell at McEnroe to continue playing. McEnroe responded to the fans with a visible obscene gesture which resulted in a fourth code violation from Brodeur and McEnroe’s immediate default from the match.

Jon Venison, the Outback Champions Series co-founder and supervisor, was summoned to the court and confirmed the code violations and the default. ”

I’m interested in the summoning and confirming of the code violations and default. I would like to hear the laundry list given to supervisor.

Oh look– beach volleyball with May and Walsh is on.

Shital Green Says:

Ref: “The Outback senior tour has a four-strike system.”
Thanks for clarifying. This makes sense now. Whether it was 7-Up yours or not yet to be seen by us.

Dan Martin Says:

Reserving any definitive comments, but Mac may be wise in his commitment to end his senior tour play.

Von Says:


“I am not defending JMac’s 3 violations. If you have a clean record, minor offenses are overlooked.”

Absolutely. This is a classic case of where one’s reputation precedes him. Consequently, irregardless of whether Mc is telling the truth or not, because of his past and present behavior, the testimony of Jon Venison, coupled with Mal Washington’s statement, there was no other alternative but to find him guilty. Mc was charged on the evidence presented. It’s a case of Mc’s word against the umpire’s, which was corroborated by Jon Venison, and unless Mc can present evidence that he didn’t finger the crowd, he has no other alternative but to comply with the ruling.

I’d like to see the YouTube clip on the finger thing, before I believe that the umpire was acting well within the parameters of his position and/or Mc is lying.

JCF Says:

It’s hard to imagine this coming from a guy who’s so cool and professional as a commentator. I know he was like this as an active player about 20 years ago, but it’s in stark contrast to how he conducts himself off the court. I can hardly believe this.

B.Ayte_ME Says:

Mc Enroe is an adult…. why he doesn’t act like one?

Chris Says:

Those of you who believe Mac does not do this anymore, i recommend going to youtube and see for yourself. Even at his old age, he has yet to figure out just how old he is.

gb1 Says:

Wow it’s really interesting to see or read how many people are eager to give Mac an easy pass for what seems like very unprofessional behavior. Hmmm…its very telling

Richard Vach Says:

Not only that, I’ve seen two news outlets (one ESPN) in the U.S. make opinion statements that McEnroe was done wrong and “doesn’t act like that anymore.” Little do there journalists I won’t mention (ahem, PTI’s Michael Wilbon) know. Mac can still throw a fit with the best of them, and in his post-match interview following his next match he claimed he couldn’t remember what happened…

Von Says:

I have the Tennis Channel which broadcasts most of the Senior Tour matches, and I can truthfully say, Mac has not changed. He becomes enraged over the most trivial problems. Some people mellow with age, but in Mc’s case it’s the opposite. I think he has gotten worse. His attitude is always negative. It’s sad to have such aan irascible disposition but he doesn’t seem to care. He should retire from playing competitive tennis.

Fay Says:

I just saw McEnroe play on Thurs. in Surprise AZ and he was the victim of a couple of questionable calls. He was calm and did question the call … I was in the front row and he was quiet enough about it that I had trouble hearing him. His opponent got a bad call as well and joked it off.

I am optimistic that people can change. I really enjoy the match, he moves like a cat and has wonderful artistic technique. His balance is like watching a figure skater. He won easily.

He may be of the opinion that not challenging a bad call is condoning it … during the past he went a bit too over board. But it seems he is exercising more self control. No problems at the Thursday match at all.

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