WIMBLEDON, England — Well, we are down to the final fours here in the world’s most important tennis tournament, and what a field it is! Particularly on the men’s side, where we have three former champions — John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg — and a two-time runner up, Ivan Lendl, who one day may get the hang of this grass court stuff, if we live that long.
Four players. Four distinct personalities: Becker, the heartthrob of teenage Europe; McEnroe, who the press here calls “Mighty Mouth”; Lendl, who is obsessed with winning this title; and Edberg, who is . . . well, Edberg is Swedish.
Before they left the grounds Wednesday, all four men were given the traditional Wimbledon Questionnaire For Semifinalist Players.
Here is how they answered: 1. Why do you want to win Wimbledon? LENDL: “To prove I can do it once.”
EDBERG: “To prove I can do it twice.” BECKER: “To prove I can do it three times.” McENROE: “To get my shoe contract back.” 2. If an umpire makes an unpopular call, what is the proper Wimbledon reaction?
EDBERG: “Be silent and act like Bjorn Borg.” LENDL: “Play with your racket strings.” BECKER: “Serve an ace.” McENROE: “The umpire should be hung by his toes and dogs should eat his flesh.” 3. Please write below the first verse to “God Save The Queen.” LENDL: “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of what I see, of her I know.”
EDBERG: “I do not realize this question.” BECKER: “God save the Queen, for us, and may she come, for us, and see us play.” McENROE: “You got to be kidding me.” 4. What is your favorite breakfast at Wimbledon? BECKER: “I am, how you say, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
EDBERG: “Cream of Wheat.” LENDL: “High grade protein shake, mixed with amino acids, liquid starch and complex carbohydrates.” McENROE: “Breakfast is for wimps.” 5. List, in order, your best shots:
EDBERG: “1. Serve 2. Forehand 3. Volley.” LENDL: “1. Forehand 2. Backhand, 3. Serve.” BECKER: “1. Serve 2. Forehand 3. Volley.” McENROE: “1. Hey, moron, if you had eyes you’d be dangerous. 2. You are the pits of the world! 3. There are 1000 umpires in the world and I get a dip-head like you!” 6. The proper way for players to address the Royal box is:
EDBERG: “Curtsy.” LENDL: “If you let me win, I will drop to the ground and kiss the earth with my lips.” BECKER: “Hey, Queen, how is it hanging?” MCENROE: “Personally, I was planning to drop my pants at Centre Court, although this may not be the correct answer.” 7. If you could not win Wimbledon, who would you like to see win it?
EDBERG: “Mats, Anders, Jonas or Henrik.” LENDL: “If I cannot win it, I would like to pay whoever wins it to let me win it, and then I would fall to the ground and kiss the earth with my lips.” BECKER: “Vell, this is a hard question, no?” McENROE: “Tatum O’Neal.” 8. Have you ever knowingly insulted an opponent, yelled at a line judge, or cursed in the presence of Her Royal Highness?
EDBERG: “You mean like John McEnroe?” LENDL: “You mean like John McEnroe?” BECKER: “You mean like John McEnroe?” MCeNROE: “You mean like Jimmy Connors?” 9. What can you tell us about the Prince?
EDBERG: “He is a very nice man.” LENDL: “If he lets me win, I will drop to the ground and kiss his shoes with my lips.” BECKER: “I think it is good his new album, ‘Batman’, yes? McENROE: “If he hired the umps, he’s a jerk.” 10. What do you do for relaxation in between the tennis matches?
EDBERG: “I think I sleep, perhaps?” LENDL: “I have my dogs.” BECKER: ‘Count my endorsements.” McENROE: “I teach my kids the game of tennis. My oldest one, Kevin, can already throw his racket into the stands.” 11. Who should win the Women’s title?
EDBERG: “Lindqvist. She is Swedish.” BECKER: “Graf. She is German.” LENDL: “I would be happy to win the women’s title, if you would let me.” McENROE: “Do women play here?” 12. Finally, what has been the highlight of your Wimbledon experience this year?
EDBERG: “I go to the movies, I think.” LENDL: “Winning my two tiebreakers.” BECKER: “On Monday, it was Monica. On Tuesday, it was Sheree. On Wednesday .
. . ” MCENROE: Well, let’s see. There’s this guy that keeps phoning your office and threatening to kill me. That’s been a real hoot. And then there’s that moron who sprayed my face with air-freshener. I plan to party with him later on. Also your fine British press corps, which ran my picture yesterday under the headline “BRAT OUT OF HELL.” I enjoy that. So does my wife. We plan to frame it. Thank you so much for having me here. You pea-brains.”