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“Tatum was upset and embarrassed by my outbursts on tennis court” – When John McEnroe opened up about his failed marriage with Tatum O’Neal


In his book titled ‘You Can’t Be Serious,’ John McEnroe wrote about his failed marriage to Tatum O’Neal.

The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion was married to the Academy-award-winning actress from 1986 to 1994 and the couple has three children. They were initially awarded joint custody of their kids after their divorce. However, McEnroe received sole custody in 1998 due to O’Neal’s heroin addiction.

The former World No. 1 wrote in his book that the couple thought having kids would be the solution to their marriage, but that wasn’t the case. He also stated that while they aspired to live like normal people, it wasn’t possible and there wasn’t enough calm in their house.

“At first, we felt, ‘This is perfect; we’ve finally got two boys and a girl. This is the answer.’ But then we found it wasn’t the answer. Maybe we were too spoiled. We had more than enough money, and fame, and we enjoyed the good things that money and fame brought us. At the same time, we aspired to live like normal people, and that just wasn’t possible. It seemed that there was never enough calm in the house,” John McEnroe wrote.

The three-time Wimbledon champion added that Tatum O’Neal was upset and embarrassed by his on-court outbursts, which got worse due to the tension at home.

“Too often, Tatum was upset and embarrassed by my latest outburst on a tennis court—and the outbursts got worse as the tension at home in- creased. My answer to all this was to over-indulge in marijuana. I thought it would relax me and help me appreciate my life more. Unfortunately, it often had the opposite effect,” McEnroe said.


“It felt harder and harder all the time to come up with any kindness for each other” – John McEnroe on his marriage with Tatum O’Neal

John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal were married from 1986 to 1994“/>
John McEnroe and Tatum O’Neal were married from 1986 to 1994

While Tatum O’Neal and John McEnroe loved their children, he stated that it was difficult for them to b kind to each other mainly because his tennis career was in decline while her acting career was on the rise.

“It was very confusing—in our way, we were both trying to be good parents and good partners to each other, but her career was in eclipse and mine was in decline, and you need to feel reasonably good about yourself before you can be kind. We loved our children, but it felt harder and harder all the time to come up with any kindness for each other,” McEnroe wrote.

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Edited by Anirudh

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