REMEMBER WHEN: The day John McEnroe caused an international incident with ‘cow dung’ accusation

John McEnroe is probably not the go-to guy for many people when it comes to diplomacy, but back in 1999 he proved he can cause an actual international incident.

McEnroe had not even been the US Davis Cup captain for a month when they were drawn to play an away tie in Zimbabwe.

“I am sure that word is seeping out that our worse case scenario has just taken place,” McEnroe told reporters within minutes. “We need like 27 shots or something to go down there.”

McEnroe wasn’t finished there. When asked what surface he expected the tie to be played on, he replied: “That is their choice.

“They are going to try to pick a surface that they feel they have the best chance of beating us on, which will probably be cow dung.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, McEnroe’s comments went all the way to the top of Zimbabwean government, and they did not go down well.

“When we beat Australia last year, we didn’t play on cow dung,” Immanuel Gumbo, attaché at the Zimbabwe mission to the US told the New York Post.

“We admire Mr McEnroe for his gifts but you have to wonder what must go on inside his head.”

As it happened, the surface wasn’t cow dung. It was an indoor hardcourt at the Harare Sports Club, and it was a far more competitive tie than most – excluding McEnroe, of course – probably expected.

Led by the then-world number one Andre Agassi, the US team sneaked through 3-2.

Agassi won two singles matches, first against Wayne Black before then beating Wayne’s brother Byron. However, with Chris Woodruff losing his first singles rubber against Byron and Zimbabwe winning the doubles match-up, it went to a decider.

This time, though, Woodruff beat Wayne Black in four sets to spare more McEnroe blushes.

Incidentally, the US went all the way to the semi-finals that year before losing to an Alex Corretja-inspired Spain in Santander – on clay, not cow dung.

Please follow Tennisbuzz on Twitter and Instagram, and you can like us on Facebook by clicking here.

For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.

Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling on of our fiendish quizzes too?

Other News

Novak Djokovic on Rafael Nadal final: ‘It’s great to play my biggest rival of all time again’

Novak Djokovic will face his 'biggest rival of all time' Rafael Nadal in the final of the Rome Masters on Sunday in what will...

Rafael Nadal on Novak Djokovic Rome final: ‘I will need to play my best tennis’

Rafael Nadal once again proved his clay court mastery as he eased past Reilly Opelka and into the final of the Rome Masters.Many were...

‘I’ll give it my all!’ – Novak Djokovic says he will be ready for Rafael Nadal showdown

Novak Djokovic has pledged to 'give his all' when he comes up against old foe Rafael Nadal in the final of the Rome Masters...

Andy Murray bad luck continues as he misses French Open due to continued ‘discomfort’

Andy Murray will skip the French Open and warm-up tournaments, and go straight to prepare for grass court season instead, it has been reported.Murray...

‘Serena has little chance at Roland Garros, but a very good chance at Wimbledon,’ says Navratilova

Serena Williams has 'very little chance' of winning Roland Garros and she knows it, says Martina Navratilova, but Wimbledon will be different.Williams suffered an...

Andy Murray rejects Geneva wild card due to ‘injury,’ claims tournament chiefs

Andy Murray appears to have suffered a fresh injury blow with Geneva chiefs claiming he rejected a wild card due to injury.Murray had planned...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don't miss a thing from Tennisbuzz - get all the latest tennis news, exclusive content and competitions, and tennis trivia teasers all delivered to your inbox.

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here