An epic finish

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McEnroe’s own stormy marriage to actress Tatum O’Neal broke up after six years; he is now wed to singer Patty Smyth. He has been a TV tennis analyst for years and was the host of a short-lived interview show on CNBC in 2004.

In 2007, the two old tennis players met again in a Tour of Champions seniors match won by McEnroe 7-6, 7-6. Afterward, Mac was extremely gracious toward his legendary adversary.

“The greatest matches I’ve ever played in my life have been against Bjorn,” he said. “Any time you play him, you don’t know you’ve won until the end.”

And usually players in that position don’t win. By the time Borg left the tennis landscape, he had won those five Wimbledon titles, six French Open crowns and a total of 97 tournaments. In the long history of men’s tennis, only a few have been as dominating: Bill Tilden, Rod Laver, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer.

But as McEnroe discovered that July day more than a quarter-century ago, there is no shame in losing when both victor and victim play a match for the ages.

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