The tennis legend talks to ET about his new Showtime documentary, 'McEnroe.'
John McEnroe made a name for himself out of a storied tennis career. But to some, he'll be known as the voice and narrator of Netflix's coming-of-age comedy, Never Have I Ever. For the retired tennis legend, McEnroe credits co-creator Mindy Kaling for thinking outside the box when it came to casting the voice inside Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian American teenage girl going through major life changes following the sudden death of her father.
"Who would’ve thought that [I] would be the sort of psychologist or uncle or advisor to an 18- or 17-year-old Indian American girl going through high school, so I got to credit Mindy Kaling," McEnroe tells ET's Kevin Frazier while promoting his Showtime documentary, McEnroe.
"It turned out her father was a big tennis fan and must've talked about me a lot when she was growing up," the 63-year-old says. "He was in India and it’s sort of her story."
McEnroe recalled meeting Kaling at a Hollywood party one year, where they soon struck up a friendship.
"I met her at this Vanity Fair Oscar party and we were just crossing paths and [my wife] Patty [Smyth] goes, 'Oh, that’s Mindy Kaling!'" he shares. "I wasn't even sure who it was then and [Mindy]'s like, 'Oh my god, I have this idea of you narrating this show,' and I'm like, 'Oh yeah, yeah, sure you do. Of course I'm gonna narrate this show.' ... And then, hey, it actually -- this is actually working!"
"It's been gratifying 'cause people have always said, 'I recognize your voice, so here's your chance to prove it," McEnroe adds.
In Showtime's McEnroe, the doc chronicles the ups and downs of his high-profile and tumultuous career. The former tennis pro was famous for his tennis skills, but also his heated temperament and outbursts on the court, which sometimes helped him gain an upper hand in matches.
"I'm not quite sure how I did that, but maybe growing up in New York, I was just used to the insanity of it all and the energy of it," McEnroe reflects. "But, at the same time, I think that’s what infuriated my opponents the most. Not that I lost it, but how quickly I gained it back. They hated that, 'cause they thought I was going to melt down."
He also praised Serena Williams as she begins to move "away from tennis," expressing his hope that she enjoys retirement following her final US Open.
"I hope it goes well for her, but it doesn’t matter ultimately [because] she's an icon," McEnroe says, his remarks coming five years after controversial remarks he made about Williams many called sexist. "She's like Muhammad Ali, in a way, and Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King, Tom Brady. I mean, she's up with the all-time athletes, whether she wins a match or she wins the tournament."
"I mean, she's won so much, [and] she seems to be in a great place and that’s what matters," he adds. "Hopefully she'll be able to sort of inspire more kids to play the sport of tennis in the future."
McEnroe will be streaming and On Demand for Showtime subscribers Friday, Sept. 2, and will premiere Sunday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.