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Watch: McEnroe Meets Virtual McEnroe in ESPN Match

By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Raging renegade John McEnroe's search for genuine joy takes tennis to a new frontier tomorrow.

Get ready for McEnroe vs. McEnroe: Virtuoso Mac vs. Virtual Mac.

More: Swiatek Rules Rome Again

Billed as the world's first real vs. virtual tennis match. "McEnroe vs. McEnroe" will debut Wednesday, May 18th on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at 8pm Eastern time.

So what happens when a tennis legend meets an avatar of his younger self in an action-packed match between past and present?

Here's a sneak peek:

McEnroe, one of a handful of champions to hold the world No. 1 ranking in singles and doubles simultaneously, will face five virtual versions of his younger self in the match sponsored by Michelob ULTRA, which choose McEnroe to "remind us to enjoy the journey."

While you might think the sight of McMultiple Macs across the net might leave the real Johnny Mac reaching for several cold ones, McEnroe called his trip into technological tennis futue "a really cool experience." 

To select the dates for Mac's digital opponents, the team chose moments truly personal to the Wimbledon and US Open champion over different years of his storied career, including when he burst onto the tennis scene in '79, became world No. in '81, and when he had the best singles record ever in '84.

"It was a really cool experience to be able to interact with myself in a new way," said the real John McEnroe (virtual Johnny Mac could not be reached for comment.

"Watching the nished product was quite a ride. There may be only one 'real' John McEnroe , but I think everyone is going to have a whole lot of fun watching me get as close as possible to playing my double."



In addition to the Hall of Famer's input, technology played a crucial role in making "McEnroe vs. McEnroe" look and feel as close as possible to a real tennis exhibition. Through a blend of technology and storytelling, the avatars not only look like young McEnroe, but were inspired by his style of play throughout the various years featured in "McEnroe vs McEnroe."


"Celebrating an icon like John McEnroe in the world's rst real vs virtual tennis match is a powerful way to dramatize Michelob ULTRA's brand point of view," said Ricardo Marques , Vice President of Marketing, Michelob ULTRA US & Global. "Through this epic experience, John McEnroe reects on his legendary career to inspire everybody pursuing their passions to have fun and enjoy the journey."

To help bring the broadcast experience to life, Michelob ULTRA enlisted someone who knows John better than most people: his younger brother Patrick, who will emcee the match and provide real-time insights into John as a person over the years. Former professional tennis player James Blake and sports commentator Ashley Brewer will call the action and bring fans an inside look at this one-of-a-kind tennis exhibition.

To celebrate some friendly competition and help spread the joy, Michelob ULTRA will be offering fans limited-edition merchandise, deals on product, and more surprises.