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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Words of wisdom from The Brat
John McEnroe and the Duchess of Gloucester
Establishment man: Meeting the Duchess of Gloucester
Forget Sampras, Rafter, Kournikova and the Williams sisters - for many tennis fans the real star of Wimbledon was someone who did not even raise a racket in anger.

John McEnroe's title-winning days may be behind him, but the man they once dubbed "Superbrat" still captivates British audiences - as a commentator for BBC TV.

The American's combination off-beat irreverance and unmatched expertise has proved an enormous hit with viewers and critics alike.

My kid brother always got the ice cream - that's OK, I always got the title

On sibling rivalry
The Observer newspaper even went as far to claim McEnroe had done more than Tony Blair to rid the UK of the "forces of conservatism".

"First he transformed Wimbledon," columnist Will Buckley explained, "now he has returned to do a number on the BBC."

And Dave Gordon, BBC Sport's executive editor and the man behind the Wimbledon coverage, agreed: "You could almost say that John has dragged our coverage, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Here BBC Sport Online charts some of the commentary gems of the man who has been transformed from Wimbledon pariah to beacon of the tennis establishment.

  • On first day of Wimbledon: "I know I've arrived! First at the BBC, then at Buckingham Palace."

  • After a disputed line-call during Lleyton Hewitt's first-round exit: "I know somebody said it in the past, but chalk flew up."

    John McEnroe at Buckingham Palace
    Milking the crowd at the Buckingham Palace charity match

  • On life on the seniors tour: "I play four or five times a week. I'd still rather win than lose. I'm more competitive than the average bear."

  • After Venus Williams claimed younger siblings always got what they wanted:. "Hey, that's how I was. My kid brother Patrick always got the ice-cream. That was OK, though. I got the title."

  • Fellow commentator David Mercer who umpired the 1984 final when McEnroe beat Jimmy Connors said: "The one mistake I made was that I said it was the third set when it was the second."
    McEnroe replied: "I find it hard to believe that was the only mistake, but we'll leave it at that."

    I'd still rather win than lose - I'm more competitive than the average bear

    On the seniors tour

  • After beating Bjorn Borg at Buckingham Palace: "This is a beautiful spot and, like Bjorn said, we just want to be invited back to have a little tea and scones."

  • After slipping on the Palace court, McEnroe shouted: "You'll hear from my lawyer."

  • On Buckingham Palace: "I've never been there before - I never thought they'd let me in."

  • When asked if any of his six children play tennis: "It depends on what your definition of playing is. Put it this way, you won't be seeing them at Wimbledon - unless they come to visit."

  • To veteran fellow commentator Bill Threlfall, who admitted he did not approve of Mexican waves: "Come on Bill, don't be old fashioned!"

    With Becker, Ivanisevic and Borg
    With Wimbledon greats Becker, Ivanisevic and Borg at the Champions Parade

  • On Arnaud Clement, during his match with Tim Henman: "He's playing so lazily he looks like he's about to ask for a chair and play sitting down."

  • After a fellow commentator suggested Steffi Graf had shown boyfriend Andre Agassi a new forehand in training which he had disliked: "That doesn't matter because I think he likes a few of the other things she's shown him as well."

  • Words of warning for Vladimir Voltchkov, the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals of the men's singles at Wimbledon since McEnroe himself in 1977. "Take a lot of deep breaths - and remember anything can happen. That's what sport is all about."

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    See also:

    28 Jun 00 |  The BBC Team
    Mac is back and the fans just love it
    07 Jul 00 |  The BBC Team
    Behind the scenes at the BBC
    11 Jun 00 |  The BBC Team
    John McEnroe
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