Novak Djokovic Wimbledon 2021

‘Grand Slam tennis is not a popularity contest’, says John McEnroe on Djokovic greatness

John McEnroe has spoken of the “supreme talent” and “complete package” of Novak Djokovic, while asserting that tennis “is not a popularity contest”.

The seven-time major champion believes players are judged by their achievements, and said “you can’t not respect” the Serbian for what he has accomplished.

World No. 1 Djokovic won a sixth Wimbledon title by defeating Matteo Berrettini in the final of The Championships last week.

The triumph saw the 34-year-old equal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a men’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles.

“Grand Slam tennis is not a popularity contest. Being that guy everyone loves, the one everyone wants to win, does not get you the ‘W’. And that’s what it’s all about,” the American said in a BBC Sport piece ahead of the Wimbledon final.

“That comes from supreme talent, multiplied by hard work, times infinity. Hard work on every little thing – game, body, diet, mind. The complete package. It’s not a popularity contest.

“They might think you’re cold, clinical, boring. Hey, they might think you’re a brat. It doesn’t mean a thing. Because what they will give you every time you step onto court – is respect.

“Respect for always being there, for consistency. For ferociously, relentlessly pushing for victory. You can’t not respect a guy with 19 (now 20) majors, who’s won every Slam at least twice.

“You can’t not respect a guy who’s lifted this thing (Wimbledon) five (now six) times, who’s done it in the greatest era of men’s tennis ever. Period. This is not a popularity contest.

“When your time is up, are you judged by the amount of followers you have? Are you judged by how many fans have your shirts and scream your name?

“Get out of here. You’re judged by what you’ve done in the game. And you know what, in time – they might even come to like you.”