At 66, Björn Borg has lost none of his Nordic phlegm, which electrified the crowd with his headband and long, now silvery blonde hair. A living tennis legend with his eleven Grand Slam titles (six at Roland-Garros and five at Wimbledon), the Swede was one of the first big “stars” of his sport. Although he played 23 times against Jimmy Connors, it was his rivalry with John McEnroe that marked his memories. ‘Ice Borg’ and ‘Big Mac’ have only met 14 times (7-7), but their Wimbledon finals (1980 and 1981) are etched in the history of the game.
A man of few words, he sneaked off his bench as captain of the European Laver Cup team on Sunday 25 September to return to Roger Federer’s retirement to The world, the Republic Y La Gazzetta dello Sport.
How did you experience Roger Federer’s tennis farewell on Friday?
It was a very emotional moment, being part of this part of history meant a lot to me as I have followed his career for so many years… Roger himself was overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important thing was to see that he was happy that things were like this, during “his” Laver Cup, with Rafa [Nadal].
You yourself had a historic rivalry with John McEnroe. What inspired you Federer and Nadal?
Rafa and Roger shared possibly the greatest rivalry in tennis history. Of course, we must not forget to include Djokovic, but seeing these two crying next to each other, on Friday night, after his brace, was a barely believable moment. Rafa was as sad as Roger, maybe he was thinking of his own goodbye soon? Seeing them play that last game, and Rafa coming just for that moment [l’Espagnol, qui sera père dans les prochains jours, est reparti samedi chez lui], It was the perfect ending for Roger. Especially in front of all his family, fans, etc.
How would you summarize Federer’s legacy to his sport?
Roger was one of the best players in the history of tennis. He gave him so much, he promoted his sport like no one before him. He was adored by fans from all over the world. And the way he played tennis, that kind, we won’t be seeing it again any time soon. Humanly, he was an accessible person, I consider him a friend. I will miss him as everyone will miss him.
Have you ever been jealous of his character and interpersonal skills?
If you could have borrowed a shot from his game, which one would you have chosen?
Without hesitation his sliced backhand.
Unlike the Swiss, you announced your retirement very early, at the age of 26, in 1983. Did you have any regrets?
No, when I decided to leave the world of tennis, I was sincerely happy. Even though I was young, my decision was made [Il tentera néanmoins un come-back en 1991, avant de se retirer définitivement en 1993]. I admire Roger, Rafa, Novak [Djokovic] and Andy [Murray] play for so long, but for my part, I have no regrets.