Legendary Tennis ICON
BY: JC Rodriguez
Borg, a name that is synonymous with grace and style. Björn Borg was the teenage sensation that went on to become the eleven time Grand Slam Champion and the first tennis player to earn a million dollars in prize money in a single season. He made millions in endorsements and it all became too much. The constant attention and superstar lifestyle brought everything to a burnout that pushed him to choose retirement at the early age of 26. He is still considered one of the best to ever play the game.
Borg was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1956. At the age of 15 Borg represented Sweden in the 1972 Davis Cup and won his debut single rubber in five sets against veteran Onny Parun of New Zealand. Later that year, he won the Wimbledon junior singles title, recovering from a 5–2 deficit in the final set to overcome Britain's Buster Mottram. From the beginning he displayed great athleticism and endurance that would wear down his opponents.
Wimbledon & McEnroe
In 1980 Borg would win his 5th consecutive Wimbledon Championship by defeating John McEnroe in a five-set match, often cited as the best Wimbledon final ever played, only comparable to the 2008 match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The rivalry between Borg and McEnroe would become legendary. Two players that hated each other and could not be further in personality would go on to respect each other and become life long friends.
Retirement and Comeback
The spotlight would become too much for him to endure. Borg is a very private person that still doesn't crave attention and grants few interviews. So at only 26 he decided to leave the game. Upon retirement, Borg had three residences, a penthouse in Monte Carlo, not far from his pro shop, a mansion on Long Island, New York and a small island off the Swedish coast.
Borg later bounced back as the owner of the Björn Borg fashion label. In Sweden his label has become very successful, second only to Calvin Klein in sales. He continues to be involved in the clothing line and visits the office 3 days a week to be involved in the design and the decision making process.
In 1991, Borg attempted a comeback on the men's professional tennis tour. He returned using a wooden tennis racquet which was no longer used by all players on tour due to the technological advancements in racquet. In his first nine matches after his return, Borg failed to win a single set. In 1992, at the age of 35, he began using a graphite racquet and would go on to win some matches. Shortly thereafter he left the professional tour and began playing in the Champions tour with his old rivals.
With 11 Grand Slam titles, Borg ranks sixth in the all time list of male tennis players who have won single titles behind the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic. In 2008, ESPN asked tennis analysts, writers and former players to build the perfect player. Borg was the only player mentioned in four categories: defense, footwork, intangibles and mental toughness. Better players have come since his playing days but it's tough to match his combination of style and substance.
"If you're afraid of losing, then you daren't win"