Wimbledon Re-Lived 1980: Borg vs. McEnroe

The 1980 Wimbledon men’s final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe is one of the most famous tennis matches of all time, and it lived up to expectations as we re-watched it ahead of our second Wimbledon Re-Lived show.

How was McEnroe viewed by British tennis fans at the time? How did his behaviour change when he played Borg? And in what way does this match carry a cultural influence which transcends tennis?

The apex of the match was the epic fourth set tiebreak, won by McEnroe 18-16 as the level of tennis reached dizzying heights and the momentum swung back-and-forth. What was it like to play? Did McEnroe feel afterwards like he would go on to win the match? And how on earth did Borg recover for the deciding set? We hear from both men.

Finally, Mary Carillo explains why it’s the best match she’s ever watched, reveals the extraordinary scene she witnessed as she flew home on the same plane as the McEnroe family, and sets up a discussion about the reasons why the Borg-McEnroe rivalry continues to shine such a bright light across the sport, despite its brevity.

The Tennis Podcast is presented by Catherine Whitaker and David Law, and features Matt Roberts. It is produced weekly year-round, and daily during the Grand Slam tournaments. It is crowdfunded by listeners each December. 


We will be doing daily shows throughout the original Wimbledon dates, looking back on some of the tournament’s best matches and most important stories. Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe can be watched in full here, while tomorrow’s match, the 1985 men’s final between Boris Becker and Kevin Curren, is available on YouTube.


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