Newly uncovered courtside footage of the tennis star’s 1984 French Open final defeat has been turned into a documentary about sport, film and the nature of genius
John Patrick McEnroe was the wayward artist of men’s tennis, a spoilt-brat genius who used his racket as a wand. Throughout his peak year of 1984 he conjured magical winners from impossible angles and whipped furious storms from the calmest of waters. His matches became a box office draw – high-octane drama beamed live to the masses.
I first fell for tennis during McEnroe’s mid-80s heyday, at about the same time I fell in love with cinema. So I am indebted to the director Julien Faraut for reconciling my twin passions. Tennis, he insists, is the most cinematic of sports. Its top-flight athletes are the equivalent of movie auteurs. These players are distinctive, inimitable and in perfect command of their material. That is, until the moment they’re not.