Even for tennis fans who grew up thinking of Patrick McEnroe as Wimbledon’s answer to Jiminy Cricket, watching him break down in tears Monday upon learning of the shock announcement of his sister’s move to the WTA was jarring.
“It was a punch to the gut,” he said in an interview Monday night, hours after winning a Challenger event in Metz, France. “Seeing that she was thinking about my mom and dad, and my sister, and my brother, it hit me. My parents were no longer there to watch the matches. It’s not like they were closing the books on it and sending her off into the sunset.
“You go through your life thinking your kids aren’t going to go through certain stuff,” he continued. “It’s not going to happen. But what is life without a little loss? Everything comes with a price.”
Uncle P. is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And, he says, he finds himself “losing faith in something” every few years. But the current stage of his life is different. Here was a sister whose happiness he saw being carried on her back; now, a world would have to embrace it.
That’s why McEnroe was “pretty numb” after learning about the New York Times report that said his brother had “decided not to renew her contract,” an information McEnroe had only shared with Nadia’s agent last week. Even after he found out that official announcement was on the way, he said, “I couldn’t even call her.”
He would eventually phone her. As far as he was concerned, he said, they had “moved on,” back when he cut her a break after the birth of their youngest daughter, Sophia, who will turn 3 this week. If her move to the WTA meant he’d lose a niece, and therefore a “great friend,” then so be it.
He, meanwhile, is fully back in the swing of things in Europe. He has the week off in England, then they head to Linz in Austria. “To make it easy, I’m going to play through the week, so it’s easier for me to get back into the swing of things.” He’s sure to have plenty of time for hugs and pats on the back in the weeks to come.
And, McEnroe said, he’s not ruling out another career move. He’s never been a quick camper, he said, but he finds himself intrigued by recent changes that have reshaped the world of tennis. These changes, he said, make him feel hopeful for the future.