This Date in Wimbledon History: July 4
Every morning during Wimbledon, we'll take a look back at a memorable match that occurred on that calendar day at the All England Club.
July 4, 1981: John McEnroe d. Bjorn Borg
Final; 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-4
The Fourth of July was a star-spangled moment for McEnroe, clad in white-and-blue Sergio Tacchini apparel and a bright red headband. In a rematch of their classic five-set final a year earlier, the volatile New Yorker came back from a set down to snap Borg's 41-match Wimbledon winning streak, spoil the Swede's bid to collect his sixth straight Wimbledon crown, and capture The Championships for the first time.
“Borg-McEnroe is one of the all-time rivalries,” Wimbledon winner Pat Cash said. “It was like the heavenly angel vs. the anti-Christ.”
Stricken by nerves at the start, McEnroe later conceded that the pressure of facing his rival who was once one of his tennis heroes got to him—for one set.
"I was tight, nervous, over-impressed with the occasion," McEnroe wrote in his memoir You Cannot Be Serious. "I could feel the crowd was against me. At the same time, it was hard not to be over-impressed. This was the apex of tennis, the rematch I'd dream of, against the player I'd idolized since my early teens."
The match turned in the third set as McEnroe fought off four set points, then won the final three points of the tiebreaker to take a two-sets-to-one lead. The prior year, Borg had battled back from a one-set deficit to win, but in the rematch McEnroe rallied from a set down to claim Wimbledon.
The brilliance of their 14-match rivalry (each man won seven matches) is tinged with regret over unfulfilled promise: Borg walked away from the game at the age of 25 (save for a brief, ill-fated comeback attempt), while McEnroe never won a singles major after that same age.
June 25: Craybas stuns Serena (2005)
June 26: Rusedski falls to World's Biggest Loser (2000)
June 27: Zheng slays No. 1, reaches milestone (2008)
June 28: Henman's last hurrah (2007)
June 29: British Invasion: Wade beats Evert (1977)
June 30: Bjorn, Vitas collaborate on a classic (1977)
July 1: Tarango walks out (1995)
July 2: Borg fends off Connors in fifth set (1977)
July 3: Sharapova becomes a star (2004)
July 4: McEnroe finally beats Borg (1981)
July 5: Venus defeats, then defeats with, Serena (2008)
July 6: Rafter catches Agassi at the end (2001)
July 7: Becker becomes youngest champion (1985)
July 8: Mauresmo denies Henin Wimbledon (2006)