Let's get one thing straight: tennis movies are terrible.
I love tennis and I love movies, so a tennis movie should be just about the best thing in the world.
And when they're awful, and they always are, it's twice as painful.
The best one to date was probably the recent Battle of the Sexes. I've actually met some of the tennis stand-ins for that movie and the tennis scenes were pretty good. But I really couldn't recommend it. It was just...okay.
Which brings us to Borg vs. McEnroe.
Keep in mind that Bjorn Borg was my absolute favorite athlete (only Federer compares).
My childhood adulation went so deep, in fact, that my mom once had to ban me from watching any more Borg matches because they made me too emotional.
I don't think running out of the house so I could sob in private (after Borg lost a set) is too emotional, but we can agree to disagree.
So when I found out that Borg vs. McEnroe was coming to theaters and VOD, I knew there was a lot on the line.
I wanted so desperately to see it and love it, but I was absolutely certain I would hate it. This movie was going to let me down just like all the others did, except this time would be worse because it had Borg.
It was definitely going to break my heart.
I was wrong.
I loved it so much, I ended up seeing it twice within a week. .
And here are the reasons why it's so great:
1) The movie takes place during the biggest tennis boom we've ever seen. It's hard to understand how big tennis was at the time Borg vs. McEnroe takes place. If you wanted to play some tennis with a friend back then, it was understood that all the courts would be full everywhere in town and you would definitely wait at least a half hour to play. It was a given. Every public court in town was always taken. Knowing that makes the tennis in the movie that much more intense.
2) Tennis was a big part of our culture then. I remember going over to visit friends of my parents one time and all the adults talked about was tennis. Everyone was watching Wimbledon in 1980. Everyone. The pressure on these two guys was incredible.
3) The fourth set of Borg/McEnroe is still regarded as the most incredible moment in tennis history. Maybe even sports history. The "Battle of 18-16" is still famous today, and the movie does it proud.
4) Borg retired shortly after the movie takes place, and it's one of the biggest sports mysteries of all time. Why, in the prime of his career, did Borg walk away? We've never gotten a good answer. The movie does a great job of answering that question.
5) Borg and McEnroe are two of the greatest players of all time, without question. And there are very few times that two opponents this great were at the peak of their powers simultaneously. Maybe Ali/Frazier? Maybe Celtics/Lakers? Who else? Jordan had no rivals. Tiger had no rivals. But these were fierce rivals both in their prime, and they were colliding in front of the whole world. How great were they? This great:
- Borg still holds the record for the top two longest winning streaks in tour history. He once won 49 matches in a row and then won 48 in row the very next year.
- Five years later, McEnroe won 42 matches in a row (and would've set the all time record had he not squandered a huge lead to Lendl in the French Open final that year).
- Borg won 11 Majors faster than anyone ever (faster than Federer, who's in second place).And he didn't even bother playing the Australian Open which would have added several to his total.
- Borg was the first player to win a million dollars in prize money in a single year.
- Borg won more 6-0 sets than anyone in history (by a wide margin).
- McEnroe still owns the highest single-season winning percentage of all time, going 82-3 in 1984.
- McEnroe was ranked #1 in the world in singles for 170 weeks and was ranked #1 in doubles for 270 weeks. Nobody has done that. Nobody even comes close.
This is not a typical sports movie, but it's a great sports movie.
And you need to see it.
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.