With his hoop earring and ever-salty tongue, John McEnroe took his place among tennis society on Saturday with his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
"He's probably the most controversial player in modern tennis. He took whining to the next level," said Olympic-champion speed skater Eric Heiden, who presented his Stanford college buddy. "I think we ought to hold off on that induction until John apologizes."
"Is it true that I have to apologize?" McEnroe asked the crowd. When the answer came back as a resounding "No!" he said, "That's what I thought. To hell with them."
He then embarked on a rambling but amusing 45-minute speech--his co-inductee, doubles specialist Ken McGregor of Australia, took five--in which he thanked everyone from his first coach to his last while insulting newspapers, erstwhile doubles partner Steffi Graf, Australia and England.
With that, McEnroe was enshrined alongside his hero, Rod Laver, mentor Harry Hopman and fellow former bad boys Ilie Nastase and Jimmy Connors.
Although he is known for his whining as much as his winning, it was the latter that earned McEnroe a place in the Hall. He won three Wimbledon and four U.S. Open singles titles among his 77 championships, and also played 12 years for the U.S. Davis Cup team.