Bjorn Borg is a retired tennis player from Sweden who has attained near-mythical status because of his astonishing achievements in a very short span of time.
Borg retired at the age of 26, but had already won 6 French Open titles and 5 Wimbledon titles by that time. No player in tennis history has ever adapted to the unique challenges of playing on clay and grass as well as Borg.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 3rd Round (1974)
French Open: 6-time Champion (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981)
Wimbledon: 5-time Champion (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)
US Open: Runner-up (1976, 1978, 1980, 1981)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
No. of weeks at No. 1: 109
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
Borg was by nature a counterpuncher, who incorporated various attacking weapons into his game as his career progressed.
He was one of the first players to impart a large amount of topspin to his groundstrokes, which makes him the originator of the modern style of play. His forehand was heavy and powerful, which he used to push opponents behind the baseline.
Borg's backhand was a unique shot, in that it started out as a two-hander but transformed into a one-hander at the point of contact. The power in Borg's backhand came primarily from his right hand, and he used his left hand merely to guide his racquet into position.
The Swede played mainly on the baseline on all surfaces except grass. On grass, he served and volleyed very often, and came to the net whenever he hit a deep shot that pulled his opponent wide.
Borg was supremely fit and fast on the court, and could outrun any player in the world. His speed and endurance made him a champion of long rallies, which explains his remarkable success at Roland Garros.
Borg also had a good serve and efficient volleys, which helped him to succeed on the lawns of Wimbledon. However, his greatest strength was probably his will to fight; he had an incredible record in five-set matches, and was a notoriously difficult opponent to put away.
Significant Bjorn Borg records
Borg played full-flight tennis for a very short duration, but he still managed to create a whole host of records. Here are the most remarkable of those:
- Highest Grand Slam match winning percentage in the Open Era: 89.81% (141-16 record)
- Highest career match winning percentage across all surfaces: 83.1% (639-130 record)
- Highest match winning percentage at Wimbledon: 92.73% (51-4 record)
- Highest career match winning percentage against top 10 players: 70.3% (64-27 record)
- Highest career winning percentage in five-set matches: 88.9% (24-3 record)
- Only player to have won the French Open and Wimbledon in three separate years
- Least number of games lost on the way to winning a Grand Slam: 32 (1978 French Open)
- One of only three players to have won at least three Grand Slams without losing a set
Borg was born in Stockholm, and grew up in Sodertalje. He first started playing tennis after getting intrigued by the golden racquet won by his father Rune in a table tennis tournament.
Borg was a precocious teenager, and rose up the ranks of the Swedish junior circuit very quickly. He won his first French Open title at the age of just 18.
Borg has been married thrice - first to Romanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu (1980-1984), then to Italian singer Loredana Berte (1989-1993), and currently to Patricia Ostfeld. He has a son with Patricia named Leo, who is a highly touted tennis player on the junior circuit at the moment.
Borg achieved dizzying fame at a very early age, which was probably the reason why he burned out early. After he lost the 1981 US Open final to arch-rival John McEnroe, he decided to leave the sport for good while aged just 26.
Borg ran into financial difficulties after his retirement, and almost went bankrupt.
Borg will forever be known as the father of modern baseline tennis, having first pioneered the topspin style and two-handed backhand that are so prevalent today. He was both a path-breaker and a traditionalist, adapting his game to Wimbledon for its prestige and yet retaining his unique style for the comfortable environs of Roland Garros.
Borg established a storied rivalry with John McEnroe, and their 1980 Wimbledon final is widely regarded as one of the two greatest matches of all time. However, McEnroe may also have been the one who sent Borg into early retirement; his win over the Swede in the 1981 US Open final was the last straw for a man who had experienced burnout and fatigue from a very young age.
Borg was the picture of calm when he was on the court. His ability to remain unaffected by the pressures of a match earned him the nickname "Ice-Borg", and he famously won a slew of long matches by playing his best tennis under duress.
Borg set so many records in his short career that till today the best players are judged by his numbers. He was a true revolutionary in every sense of the word, and it is considered tennis' greatest loss that he didn't play for longer.