Exploring John McEnroe and His Artistic Side
Art2 Minutes Read

Exploring John McEnroe and His Artistic Side

July 18, 2022 Share



Known for a temperament in the court, the tennis player John McEnroe has always been closely linked with the arts.

What happens if you swap a tennis racket by something of a (relatively) similar shape but very different purpose? That’s what Mr. John McEnroe has been doing ever since quarantine; improving on his guitar skills. Something which he claims to be getting better at whilst his notorious tennis skills, according to McEnroe himself, are getting worse.

For years McEnroe headlined due to his many victories and unequivocal temperament on the court. Shouting at the umpire, screaming matches, or aggressive racket swinging has caused the tennis star quite the reputation. Now, at a ripe 62, he claims to have gotten significantly better. And with a better temperament, we have also seen the tennis star venture more into his creative side.

Image courtesy of the New York Times

In 1994, the tennis player opened up the John McEnroe art gallery, selling big names such as Renoir and Picasso. And although it may seem as a post-retirement venture, McEnroe’s relationship to art can be traced back relatively far. Back in his early days, he came across Basquiat before he became the ultimate celebrity, but McEnroe was not sold on the artist, to the point where he claimed he “wouldn’t pay a thousand dollars” for one of his pieces.

Image courtesy of Ubitennis

Just as turbulent was McEnroe’s initial impression of Warhol, whom he apparently found rather annoying — that is up until the tennis player bid for a chance of getting a portrait of him painted by the artist. The portrait, which he won the bid for, sold in 2008 for a whopping $440,000 at Sothebys. But somewhere along his art journey McEnroe came across Larry Salander, a New York dealer who was later accused of embezzling $125 million worth of art — a tricky affair in which Robert De Niro also found himself intertwined.

But it wasn’t just in the arts that Johnny McEnroe stood out. He also became known for his fashion, a seemingly boyish take on preppy attire on the courts. He sported headbands, Nike canvas shoes and fits that look much like what current hipster-wannabes class as vintage.

Last, but certainly not least, is this man’s take on music. In 2015 he covered Nirvana on stage at the Hamptons. In 2016, he played the guitar with tennis-racket strings for charity. Although this might all sound relatively recent, the tennis player has been photographed learning how to play the guitar back in the 80s with Vitas Gerulaitis and Aerosmith at the MTV studios.

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Author: Laura Scalco
John McEnroe