Björn Rune Borg (b. June 6 1956, in Södertälje, Sweden) is a former World No. 1 tennis player from Sweden. During his relatively brief 8-year career, he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles – five at Wimbledon and a record six at Roland Garros (French Open) – leading some to consider him the greatest tennis player all-time.
As a child, Borg became fascinated by a tennis racket which his father had won as a prize at a ping-pong tournament. His father gave him the racket, beginning one of the brightest careers in tennis history.
In 1972, at the age of 15, Borg became one of the youngest players ever to represent his country in the Davis Cup, and won his debut singles rubber in five sets over seasoned pro Onny Parun of New Zealand. Later that year, he won the Wimbledon junior singles title.
In 1974, aged 17 years and 11 months, Borg won his first top-level singles title at the Italian Open in Rome. Two weeks later, he won his first Grand Slam title at the French Open. In the final, he came back from two sets down to defeat Manuel Orantes in five sets 2-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. At the time, Borg was the the youngest-ever male French Open champion (though the record has since been lowered by Mats Wilander in 1982, and Michael Chang in 1989).
Borg quickly gained a reputation for his strong base-line game, with powerful ground-strokes and a punishing doubled-fisted backhand. His great endurance and calm court demeanor earned him the nickname of the "Ice Man". He hit the ball hard and high from the back of the court, and brought it down with excessive top-spin, making it very difficult for opponents to attack him. In many ways Borg developed the style of play which has come to dominate the game in the decades that followed.
Borg retained his French Open crown in 1975, when he beat Guillermo Vilas is straight sets in the final.
1975 also saw Borg help Sweden to win its first ever Davis Cup title. He won two singles and one doubles rubber in the final as Sweden beat Czechoslovakia 3-2. With his two singles wins in the final, Borg had put together a run of 19 consecutive wins in Davis Cup singles rubbers going back to 1973. That was already a record at the time. But Borg never lost another Davis Cup singles rubber, and by the end of his career he had stretched that winning streak to 33 - a Davis Cup record which still stands.
With two French Open wins and a Davis Cup under his belt, Borg set his sights on winning Wimbledon. Borg did not make much of an impact at Wimbledon prior to 1976, and many people doubted whether his strong base-line game could be adapted to be successful on Wimbledon's fast-playing grass courts. But after two weeks of solid practice in serve-and-volley tactics, Borg swept through Wimbledon in 1976 without losing a set and beat the much-favoured Ilie Nastase in straight sets in the final. Borg became the youngest male Wimbledon champion of the modern era at 20 years and 1 month (a record later broken by Boris Becker who won Wimbledon aged 17 in 1985). Borg also made the final of the US Open in 1976, where he lost in four sets to Jimmy Connors.
Borg repeated his Wimbledon triumph in 1977, although this time he was pushed much harder. He won a thrilling five-set victory over Vitas Gerulaitis in the semi-finals 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6. And in the final he was also pushed to five sets by Connors.
The end of the 1970s and the start of the 1980s saw Borg at the height of his powers. He won both the French Open and Wimbledon for three years running in 1978, 1979 and 1980. He also won the season-ending Masters title in 1979 and 1980. And Borg was also runner-up at the US Open in 1978 and 1980.
Borg's fifth consecutive Wimbledon title was won in an all-time great final in 1980 against the new up-and-coming star of men's tennis John McEnroe. In a 34-point fourth-set tie-breaker, Borg saved six sets-points and McEnroe save five match-points before McEnroe finally won the tie-break 18-16. In the end, Borg's renowned mental toughness prevailed in the decisive fifth-set, which he won 8-6.
Borg won what turned out to be his final Grand Slam title at the French Open in 1981. In the final, he beat another of tennis' up-and-coming stars, Ivan Lendl, in five sets. Borg's six French Open titles is a record for a male player.
In making the final at Wimbledon in 1981, Borg stretch his winning streak at the All England Club to a record 41 matches. But it finally came to and end in the 1981 final, where McEnroe beat him four sets.
Borg's last Grand Slam final was a four-set defeat to McEnroe at the 1981 US Open. The US Open was undoubtedly Borg's "bogey tournament". He reached the final four times but never won.
(Borg chose to make the journey to the Australian Open only once – in 1974, where he lost in the third round).
The spark seemed to have burned out of Borg's game by the end of 1981, and he was on the brink of burn-out. But Borg's announcement in 1982 that he was retiring from the game at the age of just 26 was still a shock to the tennis world.
After retiring, Borg suffered an overdose, and was rumoured to have attempted suicide. He later bounced back as the owner of the Björn Borg fashion label, whose most noted advertising campaigns asked Swedes (from the pages of a leading national newspaper) to "Fuck for the Future".
In the early-1990s (possibly pushed by financial difficulties with his fashion label, which was not doing very well at the time), Borg attempted a comeback on the men's professional tennis tour. However this time around he was not at all successful. Playing with his old wooden rackets in an attempt to regain his once-indominatable touch, he lost his first comeback match in 1991 to Jordi Arrese at Monte Carlo. A series of first-round losses to lowly-ranked players followed over the next two years. The closest he came to winning a match was in 1993 in Moscow, when he pushed Alexander Volkov to three sets and lost a final-set tie-breaker 9-7. After that match, he retired from the tour for good and confined himself to playing on the senior tour where he has delighted crowds by renewing his old rivalries with McEnroe and Connors.
Borg was ranked the World No. 1 in six different stretches between 1977 and 1981, totalling 109 weeks. During his career, he won a total of 57 top-level singles and 4 doubles titles.
Borg was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in 1987.
Borg is one of only three individuals to have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award twice. (He won it in 1979 and 1984).
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