Johnny Mac will have the lawns of Wimbledon covered for ESPN.
Tennis legend and the sport's pre-eminent announcer John McEnroe will join the worldwide leader's coverage of the prestigious grass Grand Slam event, beginning with the upcoming fortnight in June. Often paired with his brother Patrick, McEnroe has been working on ESPN's U.S. Open coverage from Flushing Meadow, Queens since 2009.
Last July, ESPN struck a 12-year agreement for the exclusive rights to the tournament, and will present all matches live for the first time. McEnroe had been working for NBC Sports, which aired Wimbledon for the past 43 years, before it was outbid by ESPN.
"We are thrilled to expand John's role with ESPN to include the site of some of his greatest accomplishments, the grass courts of Wimbledon," said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president of production, in a statement. "His rare combination of insight, candor and personality behind the microphone mirrors the multi-talented player he was on the court." McEnroe, considered by many to be the best men's doubles player of all-time, won seven Grand Slam singles titles: three Wimbledons and four U.S. Opens.
Noted McEnroe: "I have enjoyed working the past three years with my ESPN teammates at the U.S. Open and I am looking forward to expanding my role at Wimbledon, beginning with the new expanded schedule we have this year. Like ESPN, I am committed to working hard and giving my best to help our sport grow in the U.S. and around the world."
The Championships begin on June 25.
NBC, which made "Breakfast at Wimbledon" an early summer programming staple since 1979, was looking to extend its network contract, which expired with the 2011 tourney, for two more year. Its plan was to then bring in NBC Sports Network (the former Versus) to the net with weekday coverage. The plan called for full live TV -- NBC has been criticized for showing key matches on tape delay in deference to the profitability of morning show Today -- and streaming coverage, beginning with the 2014 fortnight.
ESPN, which began televising Wimbledon in 2003 and had two years remaining on its extant contract at the time, was able to convince the All England Club as the 2011 tourney wound down that its myriad promotional and platform arsenals, and a "single narrative" voice, made it the American place to be for The Championships well into the next decade.