Three-time champion John McEnroe withdrew from the Wimbledon tennis championships yesterday, citing recurring back injuries, in another setback in his attempt to return to the top of his sport.
McEnroe notified officials at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club via telex as they were setting seeds for the event, which begins on Monday.
"There is no reason for me to come to Wimbledon unless I'm 100 percent fit," McEnroe said. "I have not been able to train since I returned from Paris and I'm tired of walking onto the court worried whether I shall be able to give it my best effort."
Peter Lawler, a McEnroe representative with Advantage International, said from his Washington office that McEnroe has been bothered by problems affecting both the lower back and hip areas.
McEnroe, ranked eighth in the world, said last month that he had been suffering from back problems for more than two years, and Lawler said yesterday, "This thing's really bothered him since last fall."
McEnroe, who won Wimbledon in 1981, 1983 and 1984, also missed last year's Wimbledon while on a six-month sabbatical from tennis. He lost in the quarterfinals to Kevin Curren in 1985.
Lawler told the All-England Club that McEnroe's physicians have advised him to take at least four more weeks off before a possible return to action. Yesterday, he said McEnroe has been undergoing treatments, which include strengthening exercises, stretching and heat treatments, for some time.
"He's had therapy every day for months and months," Lawler said.
McEnroe also will miss a tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland early next month. Lawler said the next possible competition for McEnroe is the United States' Davis Cup world group regulation playoff against West Germany in Connecticut, July 24-26.
"John thinks he can play if he's asked to play," Lawler said.
In his most recent tournament, McEnroe was eliminated in the first round of the French Open by unseeded Horacio de la Pena. He walked off the court in the final of the World Team Cup at Du sseldorf, West Germany last month, citing his back injuries.
He was fined heavily for leaving the court, but last week the Men's International Pro Tennis Council decided against further action, saying McEnroe had left the match because of a legitimate injury.
Becker, Navratilova Top Seeds
WIMBLEDON, England, June 15 -- Defending champions Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova were made the top seeds for Wimbledon, which starts Monday.
Becker is ranked second in the world behind Czechoslovakia's Ivan Lendl, but has won Wimbledon the past two years and is at his best on grass courts.
Navratilova is ranked first in the world among women's players, even though she has not won a tournament this year. She is going for her sixth consecutive Wimbledon singles championship and eighth overall.
Lendl and Steffi Graf, singles winners at the French Open earlier this month, were seeded second for Wimbledon.
Graf, who turned 18 on Sunday, takes a 39-match winning streak into Wimbledon.