John McEnroe fury: Wimbledon star lashed out at ‘mad class system’ over bowing to royals

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The 62-year-old is back on screens as the iconic British tennis tournament Wimbledon gets underway, for the first time in two years after it was suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The fiery American, who won the tournament three times during his illustrious career, is known for his no nonsense analysis of the game, and will be joined by former tennis stars such as Greg Rusedski and Sue Barker behind the mic. Throughout his playing days, McEnroe became known for his outbursts on court, including the now infamous run-in with a line judge where he bellowed “you cannot be serious”.

But his fury has not always been contained to the tennis arena, and in one rant, McEnroe hit out at the way players were forced to bow to members of the Royal Family, and those in the royal box.

Writing in his third autobiography – 2017’s But, Seriously – McEnroe, who also won the US Open four times, detailed his frustration at the tradition inside Wimbledon.

He wrote: “As for all the bowing and the curtsying – and we’re not just talking about the Queen here, we’re talking about some pretty minor royals – what was that all about?

“This was the class system gone mad, the opposite of a meritocracy where hard work is rewarded and people are respected because they’ve actually done something, not because they’ve been born on the right side of the tracks.

“Who were the performers here? The players, right? So why were they bowing to someone else when they were about to provide the entertainment?

“Those people in the royal box should think about bowing to them.”

The Royal Family has a long established connection to Wimbledon, which started out in 1907, when the Prince of Wales, later known as King George V, and Princess Mary – the Queen’s grandparents – first attended the championships.

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Prince George would be asked by George Hillyard, the new secretary of Wimbledon, to serve as the President of the All England Club – which oversees the tournament – and present the trophy to the winners.

By 1910, now-King George was given the role as patron of the club, and since then a member of the Royal Family has continued in that position.

During the Twenties, the affiliation grew with the Queen’s father Albert evening attempting to win the tournament, but reportedly lost “ignominiously in the first round and never entered again”.

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Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, is currently the Patron of the All England Club, taking over from Her Majesty in 2016 following her 90th birthday.

The 39-year-old was reportedly upset last year after organisers opted to postpone the event, due to the pandemic.

A statement from The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at the time read: “It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic. The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.”

On the day of what should have seen the tournament begin last year, Kate released an emotional video describing how waiting for the 2021 edition would be worth it.

She said: “[We] will bide our time until we sit at the edge of our seats again, and celebrate again.

“So when the time is right and we open the gates, we will be back again, and it will have been worth the wait.”

This year’s tournament begins on Monday and will see some of the world’s best tennis stars battle it out to be crowned Wimbledon champion.

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