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John McEnroe felt unprepared for the “whole new level of fame” he experienced after marrying Tatum O'Neal.
The former tennis champion tied the knot with the Oscar-winning actress in 1986 and they went on to have three children together - Kevin, 36, Sean, 34, and Emily, 31 - before the marriage broke down and they separated in 1992.
John has now opened up about the relationship, telling The Big Issue magazine: “I was someone who believed in flying under the radar, but it happened that my ex-wife was very famous at a young age.
“I thought it made total sense. I was thinking that this person has been through a lot and that may help me navigate some of this.”
However, John was overwhelmed by the attention they got as a celebrity couple.
He went on: “It turned out the two of us together were bigger than us individually, at least to the paparazzi. There was a whole new level (of fame) I suppose I should have anticipated. Then I dug my heels in, like, how dare they do this?”
John and Tatum parted ways in 1992 and went on to divorce in 1994. The sports star remarried three years later, when he tied the knot with musician Patty Smyth.
The former world number one now lives a quiet life in New York with his wife and has swapped a tennis racquet for a guitar - listing music as one of his favourite hobbies along with art.
John - who was known for his confrontational on-court behaviour during his playing days - added: “If you were to ask me what my passions are now, I’d say I love music and playing a guitar. Art’s a passion now.”