It was one of tennis’ greatest rivalries. Fire and Ice. The gentleman and the superbrat. The cool Swede versus the troubled youth from Queens. While it lasted only three brief years, the utterly compelling rivalry culminated in one match—widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time—at Wimbledon in 1980…the men’s singles final.
Björn Borg versus John McEnroe.
The film is cinematically beautiful, sweeping, and captures the game of tennis like no other film before it. It’s the summer of 1980, days before Wimbledon. Borg is chasing his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title (or maybe it’s chasing him) and the ferociously abrasive McEnroe is the only man standing in his way. Their origin stories are intricately woven into the three days leading up to the tournament, all set against the emotionally swirling original score by Jonas Struck and Vladislav Delay.
“You have to find it. No one else can find it for you.”
Shia Lebouf as McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Borg marvelously mirror the demigods they play on the screen. The costume design is as magnetic as the rivalry itself. This particular era in tennis sportswear is nothing short of inspired. Each man serves as a brand muse in his own right. With Borg armored in Fila and McEnroe brandishing Sergio Tachini, both men laid claim to the red, white, and navy war paint.
The rivalry between Björn and John changed the world of tennis and changed both men forever. It’s a thriller of a film that only ends in tears for both…and, inevitably enough, for the audience too (yes, Fred got emotional during the epilogue).