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Tony Lee's Professional Tennis School

You Cannot be Serious

Quoteable quotes

You cannot be serious"I am not a monster. I'm not all bad. Maybe 10 percent. I think I'm 90 percent good."
- John McEnroe, in 1984.

"I'm getting tired of saying hello to Stan Smith and not getting any reply. I'm cocky and confident and maybe I'm too bullheaded sometimes, but I think I have some fan and player support. I know what the others say, but I'm not that obnoxious. I am not a punk. I'm 5' 10", 155 pounds. I've got broad shoulders and I can pack a punch. Most of these guys are windbags anyway. If they ever try anything with me, I'll be to the net fast."
- Jimmy Connors (1973).

"I know I look ferocious, but I never forget my mother's birthday."
- Australian tennis standout Mark Edmondson in 1977.

"People don't seem to understand that it's a damn war out there. Maybe my methods aren't socially acceptable to some, but it's what I have to do to survive. I don't go out there to love my enemy. I go out there to squash him."
- Jimmy Connors, in 1973.

"We are professionals. The crowd must be allowed to participate. New Yorkers want blood."
- Jimmy Connors, on the rowdy U.S. Open spectators. (1976)

"It would be a nice place if you took all the people out of the city."
- Ugly American, 18-year-old tour rookie John McEnroe, on visiting Paris. (1977)


"Women's tennis is two sets of rubbish that lasts only half an hour."
- Pat Cash, in 1987, the year he won Wimbledon.

"I started when I was 4, but I didn't play seriously until I was 8."
- Kathy Rinaldi, a 14-year-old tennis whiz kid, after reaching the 1981 French Open quarterfinals.

"I don't know that I changed all that much. They just found somebody worse."
- Aging tennis bad boy Jimmy Connors, referring to John McEnroe, in 1984.

"If you're paid before you walk on the court, what's the point in playing as if your life depended on it? Hell, if you've locked up a bundle of money from a challenge match, you might as well take a vacation the rest of the year. "
- Arthur Ashe, opposing the so-called "Heavyweight Championships of Tennis," when it was disclosed that players would receive prearranged payments regardless of who won or lost.

"The incredible thing about playing her is if I hit a winner I will hear 'Good shot!' I keep saying to myself, 'Is this girl real?' She is."
- Chris Evert, on playing Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

"Equality? They ought to play the women's final on opening day. Everybody knows who's going to be in it."
- Jimmy Connors, at the 1976 U.S. Open, on the issue of equal prize money for women.

"Her tennis isn't going to straighten out until she straightens out her life."
- Chris Evert Lloyd, on Martina Navratilova, in 1982.

"There is a terrific apprehension among some people that blacks will take over the sport... It will create problems because their behavior, speech and dress is just a completely different culture."
- Tennis great Arthur Ashe, in 1988.

"What? Don't tell me that! That's the biggest crock of dump! Being the U.S. Open champion is what I've lived for. If these guys are relieved at losing, something is wrong with the game - and with them."
- Thunderstruck Jimmy Connors, told that Pete Sampras, after failing to defend his 1991 U.S. Open title, had expressed relief that the "bag of bricks" had just been lifted from his shoulders.

"You are the absolute pits of the world!"
- John McEnroe, in his most famous insult, ranting at umpire Edward James during the 1981 Wimbledon Championships.

"I wonder if she knows what's going on yet. That's great. She's winning. Wait'll she learns how to choke."
- Veteran champion Billie Jean King's put-down of 14-year-old Tracy Austin, after Austin upset fourth-seeded Sue Barker in the 1977 U.S. Open.

"You cannot be serious!"
- John McEnroe's infamous ranting to a Wimbledon umpire.

"Manners are manners. Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase have no respect. I don't want my kid seeing Nastase play. The demeanor you show on the court is important to tennis.... Maybe we (yesterday's stars) were too stereotyped. But we were told to behave or they'd take our racket away."
- Rod Laver, in 1980.

"I didn't aspire to be a good sport; 'champion' was good enough for me."
- England's fiercely competitive Fred Perry, the son of a working class Member of Parliament, who won three straight Wimbledons (1934-36) and was renowned for gamesmanship.

"I didn't start a war. Nobody died."
- Boris Becker, putting his shocking 1987 Wimbledon upset loss to unheralded Australian Peter Doohan into perspective.

"I am the best tennis player who cannot play tennis."
- Ion Tiriac, the ungainly but shrewd Romanian who, with Ilie Nastase, carried his country to the Davis Cup final in 1969, 1971 and 1972.

"I learned that it will be fun if it's all like this."
- Naive 13-year-old tennis phenomenom Jennifer Capriati, after reaching the final in her first pro tournament, in 1990. Capriati would later be arrested for drug possession and become one of tennis' most famous burnout victims.

"I want to reach absolute perfection. And I think I can reach it." -
All-time tennis great Steffi Graf, who went on to win 22 Grand Slam singles titles, in 1991.

"I want to be remembered as a great player, but I guess it will be as a player who got angry on a tennis court."
- The lament of over-the-hill John McEnroe.

"It became 24 hours a day. When I slept, I suspected a secret camera under the sheet. The more I worked to live up to my nationalistic obligations, the more harassed I became. It's tough to handle at age 23, but much harder at 17 and 18."
- Boris Becker, on being a German icon, in 1991.

"I may have exaggerated a bit when I said that 80 percent of the top 100 women are fat pigs. What I meant to say was 75 percent of the top 100 women are fat pigs."
- Richard Krajicek later apologized for these gauche 1992 remarks and won Wimbledon in 1996.

"My accomplishments do not live up to my tennis game. Most people have to work really hard and win some big matches, and then they get money and popularity. For me it has been the reverse of everybody else. The exact opposite."
- Under-achiever Andre Agassi, in May 1992, two months before he won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.

"If [Harry] Hopman told his squad to go jump a fence, they wouldn't think twice. If I ask a player to go practice his serve for half an hour, he will probably want to know why."
- Australian Davis Cup captain Neale Fraser, in 1992.

"My femininity is always something I've tried to preserve in this dog-eat-dog world."
- Margaret Smith Court, the tall and powerful Australian tennis great.

"My goal one day is to be in the same sentence as Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. If I can match them for 10 years, I'd be in their company. They were class acts. That's what I'd like to be."
- Pete Sampras, after winning the 1993 U.S. Open for his third Grand Slam title.

"What is it that Americans see in Agassi? I think he's short, hairy, balding and stupid."
- Louise Evans, of the Australian Associated Press, not enamored of Andre Agassi during all the Agassi mania at Wimbledon in 1993.

"It's not easy for me to live with, knowing that I'm Number 1 because she was attacked."
- Steffi Graf, in 1994, referring to her former archrival, Monica Seles, who was stabbed a year earlier and was still off the pro tour.

"His day is done, and now we're doing it. And we're doing it pretty well and not with fingers in the air and our hands on our crotches."
- Jim Courier, in 1994, firing back after Jimmy Connors criticized the leading players for being boring and unentertaining.

"There's too much money and too many nice guys around."
- John McEnroe, on what's wrong with men's tennis, in 1994

"She might be No. 1 in two years, but will she last five years?"
- Martina Navratilova, critical of phenom Martina Hingis' fall 1994 pro debut at 14, and concerned she may burn out prematurely.

"This is something you'd die for. The intensity of playing against Pete is something above and beyond anything I feel against anybody else, and beyond the rivalry there's that hunt for No. 1."
- Andre Agassi, fired up about his rivalry with Pete Sampras in 1995.

"When you become a top player, you think that nothing else and nobody else matters. You can tell everybody on earth, 'Listen, I'm playing tennis, I don't have time for you. I'm in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, screw everybody and everything else.' "
- Former world No. 1 Mats Wilander, in 1995.

"I used to go into pubs and people would want to pick a fight with me. I would hear a group of girls say: 'Oh look, there's Pat Cash.' And then one of them would come up to me and say, 'You think you're so good,' and throw a drink in my face. That kind of reaction from people was a bit of a shock initially, and you don't ever really get used to it."
- Pat Cash, in 1996.

"The thing is, I've never really cared much about the tour. I play, do press, then I'm out of there."
- Steffi Graf, unapologetic about her total lack of involvement in promoting the women's tour, in 1996.

"Women should never be allowed on centre court."
- Jack Kramer, after his match was delayed by a long women's singles match

"Big money encourages tanking. In my opinion, tanking is going on even with a lot of the top guys today - it's quite evident."
- Jimmy Connors, in 1997.

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