Interview with Björn Borg -
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2007, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Interview with Björn Borg


When I got to the restricted player’s area, Bjorn was sitting placidly with his four year-old son Leo on his lap, alongside his third wife, Patricia Ostfeldt, and countryman Anders Jarryd – that odd Swede from the 1980s who ended up playing the event as a subtitute for Michael Stich, who was supposed to substitute for Goran Ivanisevic , who - well, you know, those old timers are falling apart!

I sat down next to Bjorn and we started chatting with his recent visit to the All England Club for the Wimbledon finals weekend. You'll remember that he congratulated Federer right after the Swiss bagged the title and left Centre Court.

MS - I saw you at Wimbledon, hugging Federer. You seemed happy and easy-going, quite different from the Ice-Borg image everybody had of you – but I was also puzzled about why you seemed to root for a fifth Federer title, since Nadal, whose play makes him a natural heir of yours, could also equal your Wimbledon-Roland Garros combo record.

BB - I was not rooting for anyone in particular, I was hoping for a great final and I knew it would be a great match because every time they play against each other they bring out the best. They have completely different styles, they are the two best players in the world, they have a great rivalry and their matches are always great. I enjoy watching Nadal a lot and both are nice, but I said before that it could’t happen to a nicer person if Roger would equal the record. It is a difficult record to beat, but I was hoping Federer would do it.

MS - When Federer beat Sampras in 2001, you called him, thanking him for preventing Sampras from matching your Wimbledon record. But now you wanted him to equal you?

BB - It’s funny, because I didn't think of that when I called him back then. And then there I was (at Wimbledon), thinking, "This was the guy I called before and thanked him, and now he has the chance of equaling the record". That first time I called Roger because he was coached by Peter Lundgren at the time, a very close friend of mine. Federer had the chance to do it this year and he did it. But even Nadal… he was a little bit unlucky, he had a good chance to win and if I have to pick someone to win next year, I pick Nadal. He is the player who can win both on clay and on grass.

MS - Have you been watching all their matches? Can you explain why Roger seems to play under his best when he meets Rafa? For instance, at the Wimbledon final, he only seemed to release himself after that double 15-40 scare in the final set. . .

BB - They have a lot of respect for each other, and Roger knows he has to play his best against Nadal. It’s a different mental aspect for Roger, because Nadal is such a great player, young, strong and it is very difficult to beat him. They both respect each other on and off the court. It’s tough for Federer to face Nadal, but still you see great tennis and that’s the most important thing and the reason why I enjoy watching those guys.

MS - It’s a healthy rivalry, while in the '80s there was a lot of animosity – not with you, because Mac always behaved while playing against you, but between McEnroe and Connors and both against Lendl. Do you think tennis needs that spark - more Soderling-Nadal moments? Borg

BB - Well, I think tennis needs another player at the top. Back then, with myself, Mac and Connors, there were three of us. It would be even nicer three or four at the top, playing against each other throughout the world because it’s unbelievably great tennis. . .

MS - A lot was made of your attempt to sell your trophies, and McEnroe told me here, last year, about the conversation you both had on the phone. I always thought you were the kind of person whose favorite trophies were the moments when you actually won the tournament. . .

BB - For me, it was always the memories. I never worried about the material. I never had trophies exposed in my home – never ever. I have memories in my mind, they are still in my head. I remember everything. I have memories and a lot of pictures, those were always the most important things for me. If you come into our house, you can’t even know that I was involved in tennis or even in sports. It’s been like that all these years. Maybe it was not a good decision, to sell the trophies; I’m glad I changed my mind. I was proud when I won my first trophy, at 11, and still have it. I still have a lot of trophies in the basement, but in the past 20 years I’ve been giving a lot of them to kids’ tournaments, charities.

MS - All those years you’ve been away from the game… were you curious about what was going on, or were you completely away?

BB - I was always following tennis, because I love the game. It’s as simple as that. Maybe I wasn’t on the tennis scene or involved, but I was always following tennis. It’s an important part of my life. Now I plan to come to tournaments and follow tennis on the site, while before I was away.

MS - One could see your love when you kneeled down and kissed the Centre Court grass when you came back to Wimbledon on the champions parade several years back.

BB - I always cared. The things I did at Wimbledon and in Paris are deep in my heart. Those are kind of hallowed places for me. I had my dreams, and I’m very proud of what I did. It still means a lot to me, even if I wasn’t there all those years. It was really special coming back to Wimbledon this year.

MS - You play a little bit differently now, the follow-through on your backhand is different. Today, there were sometimes I thought you were Connors, hitting the backhand flat and on the rise.

BB - (Laughing) Really? The three matches I played, I had a great time. I enjoyed a lot, even though Meligeni and Muster were younger. We cheat as we get older, we try to make the shots easier.

MS - I was there at Monte-Carlo in 1992 when that guy came out of the crowd after you played Wayne Ferreira and tried to put a crown on your head. You always seemed unaffected by the strange reactions of people surrounding you.

BB - I enjoy when people come out and appreciate the success I had in tennis, what I did for tennis. It’s important for yourself in general life, feeling appreciated. You enjoy yourself, you’re happy and satisfied. I plan to play four more senior events this year and you’ll see more of me in the Slams.

MS - So, you’re in shape and happy to be back!

BB - I’ll always play tennis. I love tennis. Physically and mentally, it is good to play. The secret for being in shape is having a good wife. . . I’m happy with my family, and my life couldn’t be more perfect.

MS - Will we see your son Leo following in your steps?

BB - Whatever he will do in life, my wife and me will always be behind him. But if he picks a sport, I hope it’s not tennis. I hope he takes another sport. Not only because it’s tough, but to follow a father’s or a mother’s footsteps is always difficult for sons and daughters. If he plays tennis, he will always be compared to me – that’s what happened to my older son, Robin!

The comparison would be inevitable. People were always mystified by Borg, his iconic image, his aura of invincibility. And many people rushed to judge him when he went abruptly retired, and made that fairly disastrous comeback effort in 1992. Frankly, I never really cared about the reasons, and avoided judging him, for one reason: We can try to imagine, but none of us can really understand, what it would would be like to be in his shoes.

Borgmania was huge. All the adulation, success, fame and fortune, the demi-God status – there is simply no preparation for that. Even Bjorn doesn’t quite know why he left: He told me:

""I don’t know why I lost motivation. Perhaps I was just tired of the whole thing. It was a chance to be yourself, to have a life of your own. There was no life. I just wanted to be more myself, even if I was myself playing tennis. I wanted to get away from everything."

The last time I saw Borg before he left Portugal, he was putting his famous autograph on a tennis ball. It still is the coolest, nicest-looking signature in tennis - angular, minimalist, symmetrical – and I realized that, come shine or rain, trophies or no trophies, fortune or bankruptcy, Bjorn Borg’s reputation, and that image of him jubilantly commemorating his fifth Wimbledon title, will always make him a rich man in every sense of the word.

-- Miguel Seabra

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2007, 04:03 PM
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Great interview. It is great to see him getting more involved into tennis again. For tennis lovers, it is awesome to still be able to see Mac and Borg on the courts.
BTW, from the looks point of view, Borg is still looking damn hot.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2007, 04:03 PM
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Eden thank you for posting a great interview from the great man

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-06-2007, 04:05 PM
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Great timing, Doris. Seems Borg was on the mind of many today for some reason. Terrific article, as always, thanks for posting.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2007, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Thought to post this article on here:

Bjorn Borg: My life is perfect
By Mark Hodgkinson in Eindhoven

When Bjorn Borg comes back to London, he doesn't just think of the green grass of Wimbledon's Centre Court, of those five golden trophies, and of that extraordinary 18-16 tie-break he lost to John McEnroe in the 1980 final. He also remembers the girls, the girls, the girls.

Borg was the first rock star of tennis, or lawn tennis as it was quaintly called back then, and so he could probably tell you stories that would make even Jilly Cooper blush. "When I first played at Wimbledon, in 1973, it was crazy. I was this young Swedish guy with long hair, and suddenly it went mad and there were girls everywhere. There were girls on the way to the practice court, girls by the match court, and girls waiting in the lobby of my hotel," recalled the old Viking prince of the All England Club, who will be back competing in the land of the groupies in December.

Bjorn Borg: the Swede is finding contentment in later life

"The girls had found out where I was staying and so when I went into the lobby there were hundreds of them waiting for me. They were screaming and they wanted my autograph, they wanted to talk to me and they wanted to get close to me. It was like I was a pop star. Tennis had never seen anything like it before.

"I think it was good for the sport, but it was also good for me. It was strange and it was new for me, but I really enjoyed the craziness. But when I came back the next year, I had to get more security. I tried to concentrate on my tennis after that first year." And "concentrate" he plainly did, for he went on to win five successive Wimbledon titles from 1976 to 1980.

"I sometimes look back to those days with all the girls, but I have a great family life now and I prefer that, staying at home with the family," he added. "This is my third marriage. Patricia and I have been together now for seven years and I'm so happy. It feels as though I have found the right woman for me and I'm now living the way I want to live. I have the perfect life now and I wouldn't change a thing."

Borg's home is now with Patricia and their son outside Stockholm but this year he has been reacquainting himself with the city where his life was once more Mick Jagger than Cliff Richard. In July, on only his second visit to Wimbledon since losing the 1981 final, he sat in the Royal Box watching Federer emulate his record by also winning his fifth straight title. And in December, he will be across town at the Royal Albert Hall for the finale of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. It will be his first appearance there since 2000. "My relationship with the British public goes way into the past," the Swede added. "London almost feels like home for me, it is a special place.

"When I went back to Wimbledon this summer, I had a great reaction. People came up to me and said, 'We missed you, Bjorn' or 'You belong here, I remember all your matches'. People still respect me as a tennis player, maybe still see me as an enigma. I will definitely be back next year. I realise now that I was missing something all those years by not being there. Playing at the Albert Hall will be special too."

Whatever the opposite of a mid-life crisis is called, it's what Borg, now 51, is going through at the moment. You could say that Borg had his mid-life crisis early — he was just 26 when he decided that he had had enough of tennis and quit the circuit. And his late twenties, thirties and forties were hardly straightforward either with failed relationships, failed businesses and failed comebacks. So perfectly in control on the court, the 'Ice Man', or 'Ice Borg', struggled to keep it together. But a quarter of a century on from his early retirement, Borg at last appears to be content.

He has a thriving underwear business with one infamous advert imploring the Swedish public, through the pages of their national press, to "F*** for the Future".

"It was difficult after I retired," Borg said. "I had been concentrating on tennis all my life, and then suddenly I had to quickly learn about other things in life. That was not always easy as people judged your tennis against everything else in your life. They would say, 'Look, he's not as successful now as he was as a tennis player'. That was hard."

Borg's marriage to his childhood sweetheart, tennis player Mariana Simionescu, ended in divorce. Borg fathered a child with Jannike Bjorling, a teenager he met while judging a wet T-shirt competition (she was a contestant). That also did not last and Borg was married for a second time, to Loredana Berte, an Italian glamour model and rock star who used to appear semi-naked and doused in glitter on the cover of her albums. Her signature song was Non sono una signora (I am not a lady). In 1989, Borg was taken to a Milan hospital where he had to have his stomach pumped. But Borg has always maintained it was not a suicide attempt.

The tale of Borg allegedly trying to kill himself clearly still irks him, so much so that he brought the subject up himself. "There is this ridiculous story that I wanted to kill myself," he said. "That was disappointing and upsetting. OK, my business wasn't going so well, but that is no reason to kill yourself. I had my whole life ahead of me, so why would I want to kill myself? I realise now that the most important thing isn't what other people are saying. What matters is that you wake up in the morning and know what you want to achieve in life. And that is easier for me now because I wake up with such a great family around me."

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-31-2007, 02:24 PM
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Great interview, I love it that he's so open about his former life, the stardom, the groupies, etc.

The interview makes perfectly clear that dealing with 'stardom' isn't at all easy and comfortable, and I'm glad that Borg managed to overcome it all, being happy with his family now.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-19-2008, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Borg: I thought McEnroe had me in THAT final

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It was a time for great rivalries, a time when sports fans were spoilt for choice. The late 1970s and early '80s had millions bolted to their sofas for Higgins-Davis, Leonard-Duran, Nicklaus-Watson and of course Borg-McEnroe.
One can throw in bike stars Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts for good measure, while on the silver screen it was Vader versus Skywalker.
No Nintendo Wiis or ipods to entertain us, just pure sporting theatre. Those who witnessed Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe grace the Wimbledon stage in back-to-back epic finals should be thankful it was before the personal computer explosion otherwise they would have been too busy on their Game Boys to have found themselves been hypnotised by the unfolding soap opera.
A sell-out crowd on Friday night at the Odyssey Arena for the latest Borg-McEnroe meeting in the Tennis Legends event simply reminds us of their magnetic appeal.
The limbs may have stiffened a little and the hair a few shades lighter but both will tell you the fire still burns and the respect for each other, how they took one another to a sporting zenith, simply overflows.
"I never had a problem with Bjorn. I never lost it against him, I had too much respect for him. In fact when I came on Tour he took me under his wing, looked after me," said McEnroe, who came face-to-face with the king of Wimbledon on June 1980.
This was to be the end of one reign and the beginning of the next or so Superbrat thought. He would have to wait another 12 months for his coronation.
Borg had dropped the first set playing very poorly but managed to take the next two before the fourth which went to the most memorable tie-break in tennis history.
With fortunes swinging one way and then the other with every sinew stretched for a succession of winners, the Swede - going for his fifth straight title - was on the brink of glory. But having given up seven match points he was staring into the abyss as McEnroe took the tie-break 18-16.
The Iceman was now starting to melt on his beloved Centre Court, or so thought McEnroe and many of the crowd on that warm Saturday afternoon.
"Coming into the match, going for my fifth title, everyone wanted to see me and John in the final," said Borg.
"We played several times and every time it was very close. I remember that he won the first set pretty easily and in the tie-break I had chances to win the match but of course he won it and then came the fifth set which was exciting too. That match was more exciting and memorable match than any. It had everything.
"I remember walking back to the chair after the tie-break. That was the toughest moment of my career. I thought he would win the match.
"If he had broken me in the first game of the fifth set I would have lost but I won from love-30 and then played just unbelievably well.
"I'm kind of a quiet Swedish guy and John is from the States, New York, and a little bit more outspoken, shall we say. So, when people saw us play they were seeing two different personalities who had respect for each other but brought out the best from each other on the court. We played great tennis in every single match. I think we helped to lift tennis to a different level.
"I'm just happy to have been a part of that and I hope John will agree with me when I say that. Everybody remembers our matches from all over the world, especially that Wimbledon final in 1980.
"It's the same rivalry that today Federer and Nadal have today. It's good for tennis to have rivalry. It brings tennis, the interest and the impact to a different level."
Just 12 months later and they were once more facing each other across the net at SW19 and this time McEnroe would have his revenge.
Borg's 41-match unbeaten run came to an end in another four absorbing sets which included two more tie-breaks.
Later that summer he would lose again to his great rival in the US Open final and by the end of 1981 he had fallen out of love with the world around him and walked away from the sport, much to the deep disappointment of McEnroe among millions of others.
"When I lost in 1981 it was strange because of all the finals I played that was the one I should have won," added Borg.
"I felt better than John that day. I was playing very well but I wasn't focused 100 per cent.
"I had lost the intensity, I was starting to lose the motivation and at the end of that year at 26 I had retired.
"John deserved to beat me. If I had been a bit more focused I could have won but you cannot continue winning all the time. I was not too disappointed, what I did was a great achievement and I feel it deeply within my heart.
"At the US Open I was not focused, I didn't enjoy it. I played some more tournaments after that and then decided to retire.
"It was difficult because I could have gone on for five or six more years at that time and maybe won more grand slam titles but I took the decision to stop and I don't regret anything.
"I still love tennis and it's part of my life and that's why this Tour is great for me. I love playing, I love competing."
While Borg was king of all he surveyed on the tennis court, life away from the game which had brought him fame and fortune was to prove a much greater than challenge than McEnroe or Connors could ever throw at him.
"There were a lot of possibilities for me after I retired but I got involved in some businesses that were very bad and some that were very good.
"I wasn't prepared for so called normal life because all I had ever done was play tennis, that was my total focus.
"Now I was in a completely new life and I was now learning about life in general, in the end it worked for good because now my business is doing very well, I can see its growth and the results for me."
His first marriage to Romanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu would come to an end followed by other failed relationships but now he is settled in Sweden with wife Patricia and his clothing business is proving very lucrative and of course for the past six months he has been back playing tennis on the BlackRock Tour of Champions.
It may be 27 years on from that final meeting at Wimbledon when Borg and McEnroe were at the peak of their powers but they will still have the Tennis Legends enthralled when the event kicks off on Thursday at the Odyssey.

TOMORROW: From wonderkid to living legend
Thursday (2pm): Anders Järryd vs. Chris Wilkinson; Jeremy Bates vs. Bjorn Borg (7.30pm) Henri Leconte vs. Pat Cash; John McEnroe vs. Mikael Pernfors. Friday (2pm): Bates vs. Pernfors; Leconte vs. Wilkinson; (7.30pm) Järryd vs. Cash; McEnroe vs. Borg.

Saturday (2pm): Cash vs. Wilkinson; Borg vs. Pernfors; (7.30pm) McEnroe vs. Bates; Leconte vs. Järryd.

Sunday: (2pm - Finals) Runner up Group A v Runner up Group B; Winner Group A v Winner Group B.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-20-2008, 03:46 AM
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Re: Interview with Björn Borg

Thanks for posting this.

Borg is the GOAT

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