ITHF to preview ‘McEnroe/Borg: Fire & Ice’

June 1, 2011

NEWPORT, R.I. — Thirty-one years after the stirring Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final that earned Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg a place among history’s great sports battles, HBO Sports looks back at their unforgettable rivalry of the ’70s and ’80s in the new documentary McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will host a preview screening of the film on Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Casino Theatre at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The documentary will premiere HBO on Saturday, June 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

“Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe are tennis royalty,” says Ross Greenburg, president, HBO Sports. “Their rivalry was brief yet historic, and their individual life stories are fascinating and compelling. We hope to tell the full story of their rivalry and enduring friendship.”

The film chronicles their back stories, prolific tennis careers and spirited rivalry, which propelled tennis into the international sports headlines of the late ’70s and early ’80s. In addition, McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE spotlights their post-tennis careers as the two men went their separate ways, with McEnroe launching a high-profile broadcasting career, while Borg chose a more private life.

Born Feb. 16, 1959 in Wiesbaden, Germany to Americans Kay and John, who was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force, John McEnroe was the fire to Bjorn Borg’s ice. McEnroe’s fierce passion for the game earned him seven Grand Slam singles titles, but also sparked intense criticism from those offended by his berating of umpires, fans and line judges. Although controversy followed McEnroe throughout his career, his talent, artistry and exquisite timing made him one of the best players of his generation. He was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.

In stark contrast, Bjorn Borg’s icy stoicism was a trademark of his dazzling career. Born June 6, 1956 in Sodertaljie, Sweden, he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles at a time when Hall of Fame players such as Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe were also in their prime. A master of the grass court, Borg won five straight Wimbledon championships from 1976 to 1980, establishing himself as one of the all-time greats, and ultimately being honored with Hall of Fame induction in 1987. But his unrelenting mental and physical training regimen took its toll: Instead of embracing the rivalry he’d begun with McEnroe, Borg walked away from the sport when he was just 26, leaving the tennis world to wonder why.

Their most memorable match decided the 1980 Wimbledon men’s singles championship. Boasting an unbending ground game, Borg was attempting a fifth straight win, while McEnroe relied on a renowned serve and volley attack in pursuit of his first title. McEnroe easily took the first set, but Borg fought back to win the next two. The fourth set produced one of the sport’s finest hours, with McEnroe denying Borg seven match points, including five in the 18-16 tiebreaker, but Borg recovered to win 8-6 in the fifth.

This exclusive “Legends & Legacies” presentation features HBO Sports’ acclaimed combination of rare footage, archival photos and revealing interviews. In addition to McEnroe and Borg, interviewees include: brother Patrick McEnroe; Peter Fleming, McEnroe’s doubles partner; journalists Mike Lupica, Bud Collins, Charley Steiner and Peter Bodo; Tony Palafox, McEnroe’s coach; Percy Rosberg, Borg’s coach; former Swedish women’s player Ingrid Bentzer; former Wimbledon chair umpire George Grime; British journalists Malcolm Folley and Tim Adams; and Swedish journalist Lennart Eriksson.

Admission to the Hall of Fame preview screening is free for ITHF Members, and included with Museum admission of $11 for Non-Members. Seating is limited and reservations may be made by emailing [email protected].

In addition to the Hall of Fame screening on June 9 and the HBO premiere on June 11, the documentary will be shown on the following dates.

HBO playdates: June 11 (12:05 a.m.), 14 (9:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m.), 17 (7:00 p.m.), 18 (9:30 a.m.), 19 (12:30 p.m.), 23 (5:05 a.m.), 24 (12:30 p.m.), 26 (11:30 a.m.), 29 (5:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.) and 30 (11:55 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: June 12 (9:30 a.m., 10:00 p.m.), 20 (noon, 11:00 p.m.), 22 (7:30 a.m.) and 30 (11:00 a.m.)

HBO On Demand availability: June 13-July 4

HBO Sports’ documentary unit has earned 31 Sports Emmy Awards®, including the Outstanding Documentary award each of the last four years, and has received nine Peabody Awards, including one for the 2010 presentation “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.”

The executive producers of McENROE/BORG: FIRE & ICE are Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein; producer, Margaret Grossi; interviewer and story editor, Mary Carillo; writer, Aaron Cohen; narrator, Liev Schreiber; editor, Jeff Reilly; music composed by Gary Lionelli.