Many tennis icons retire from the sport with a fair amount of stories to share with their grandchildren years later. Arguably one of the more memorable stories, simply due to the sheer significance of it, is that of Aussie tennis legend John Newcombe recounting his drinking endeavours with former Unites States President George W. Bush.
Speaking with radio station SEN in a live radio interview (via Sydney Morning Herald), Newcombe divulged the details that led to the Bush’s DUI arrest – an incident that would creep up and threaten his presidential bid in 2000.
It appears the situation started as a binge drinking competition between the two acquaintances in 1976, where Newcombe was staying as a guest at George Bush Sr.’s – the CIA director at the time – holiday home in Kennebunkport, Maine. During a gathering at a small pub, Newcombe subtly challenged Bush to match him drink for drink.
“I noticed that George was sort of eyeing me off,” Newcombe recalled. “So I put on a bit of a pace and he’d keep pace with me. A silent game was going on.”
“After about four of these [beers], I picked the glass up in my teeth without my hands and skulled it straight down and I said, ‘What are you made of, George?’ And so he had to do that.”
Once the pair had finished their boyish drinking joust, they plodded outside the pub, where, according to Newcombe, his wife offered Bush a ride back to the house. He informed her that he was ‘all right’ and did not require their service.
After being “cheeky” with the arresting officer, George W. Bush eventually pled guilty to the DUI, and was fined $150. He would give up drinking in the 1980s and stated that he “occasionally drank too much and did on that night.”
Once the incident became public knowledge a few days before Bush’s presidential bid, Newcombe was forced to go into hiding to avoid speaking with the press.
“I just hid out. I hid. I didn’t talk about it, actually, for years while he was president.”