As a child, Borg became fascinated with a golden tennis racket that his father won at a table-tennis tournament. His father gave him the racket, beginning his tennis career. His muscularity allowed him to put heavy topspin on both his forehand and two-handed backhand.
He followed Jimmy Connors in using the two-handed backhand. By the time he was 13 he was beating the best of Sweden's under players, and Davis Cup captain Lennart Bergelin who served as Borg's primary coach throughout his professional career cautioned against anyone trying to change Borg's rough-looking, jerky strokes. 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.
Then in December he won the Orange Bowl Junior Championship for boys, 18 and under after a straight sets victory in the final over Vitas Gerulaitis. Borg was seeded sixth at his first Wimbledon Championships , in large part due to a boycott by the ATP , and reached the quarterfinal where he was defeated in a five-set match by Roger Taylor.
Barely 18, Borg was the youngest-ever male French Open champion up to that point. Borg subsequently lost to Arthur Ashe in the final. Borg retained his French Open title in , beating Guillermo Vilas in the final in straight sets. Borg did not lose another match at Wimbledon until Borg won two singles and one doubles rubber in the Davis Cup final, as Sweden beat Czechoslovakia 3—2.
With these singles wins, Borg had won 19 consecutive Davis Cup singles rubbers since That was already a record at the time. However, Borg never lost another Davis Cup singles rubber, and, by the end of his career, he had stretched that winning streak to Panatta did it twice: Borg became the youngest male Wimbledon champion of the modern era at 20 years and 1 month a record subsequently broken by Boris Becker , who won Wimbledon aged 17 in It would be the last time Borg played Wimbledon as an underdog.
Borg lost in four sets to world no. He defeated his good friend Vitas Gerulaitis in a semifinal in five sets. This injury ultimately forced him to retire from the Open during a Round of 16 match vs Dick Stockton. In , Borg won the French Open with a win over Vilas in the final. Borg defeated Connors in straight sets at Wimbledon.
Borg was suffering from a bad blister on his thumb that required pre-match injections. Borg established himself firmly in the top spot with his fourth French Open singles title and fourth straight Wimbledon singles title, defeating Connors in a straight-set semifinal at the latter tournament.
Borg was upset by Tanner at the US Open, in a four-set quarterfinal played under the lights. At the season-ending Masters tournament in January , Borg survived a close semifinal against McEnroe. He then beat Gerulaitis in straight sets, winning his first Masters and first title in New York. Again, he did not drop a set. However, McEnroe averted disaster and went on to level the match in Wimbledon's most memorable point tiebreaker, which he won 18— In the fourth-set tiebreak, McEnroe saved five match points, and Borg six set points, before McEnroe won the set.
Borg then won 19 straight points on serve in the deciding set and prevailed after 3 hours, 53 minutes. With 19, fans in attendance, Borg won a deciding third-set tie-break for the second year in a row.
Borg then defeated Ivan Lendl for his second Masters title. In reaching the Wimbledon final in , Borg stretched his winning streak at the All England Club to a record 41 matches.
In a semifinal, Borg was down to Connors by two sets to love, before coming back to win the match. However, Borg's streak was brought to an end by McEnroe, who defeated him in four sets. Years afterward, Borg remarked "And when I lost what shocked me was I wasn't even upset. That was not me: I hate to lose. After that defeat, Borg walked off the court and out of the stadium before the ceremonies and press conference had begun, and headed straight for the airport.
In later years, Borg apologized to McEnroe. Major tournaments and tour organizers were enforcing a new rule; by , that players had to play at least 10 official tournaments per year. However, Borg wanted to curtail his schedule after many years of winning so often. Although he felt in good condition physically, he recognized that the relentless drive to win and defy tour organizers had begun to fade.
He played on hard courts at the US Open from to and reached the final there on three occasions, in , and He led 3—2 in the fifth set of the final, before losing.
That match followed Borg's classic encounter with McEnroe at the Wimbledon. In , and , Borg was halfway to a Grand Slam after victories at the French and Wimbledon the Australian Open being the last Grand Slam tournament of each year at the time only to falter at Flushing Meadow, lefty Tanner his conqueror in Nevertheless, Borg's announcement in January that he was retiring from the game at the age of 26 was a shock to the tennis world.
McEnroe tried unsuccessfully to persuade Borg to continue. He did, however, play Monte Carlo again in March , reaching the second round, and Stuttgart in July Retirement[ edit ] Borg in 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.
In Sweden his label has become very successful, second only to Calvin Klein. Before his return, Borg grew his hair out as it had been during his previous professional tennis career and he returned to using a wooden racket; he had kept his hair cut and used modern graphite rackets in exhibitions he played during the late s.
Borg, however, failed to win a single match. He faced Jordi Arrese in his first match back, again at Monte Carlo but without practising or playing any exhibition matches, and fell in two sets. In his first nine matches, played in and , Borg failed to win a single set. He fared slightly better in , taking a set off his opponent in each of the three matches he played. He came closest to getting a win in what turned out to be his final tour match, falling to Alexander Volkov.
Borg later joined the Champions tour, returning to shorter hair and using modern rackets. Together they have a son, Leo, born in , who is currently the highest ranked year-old tennis player in Sweden. Have you gone mad? During his career, he won a total of 77 64 listed on the Association of Tennis Professionals website top-level singles and four doubles titles. Borg was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in The French Open—Wimbledon double he achieved three times consecutively was called by Wimbledon officials "the most difficult double in tennis"  and "a feat considered impossible among today's players.
In his autobiography, Jack Kramer , the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, had already included Borg in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time. And in , Bud Collins chose Borg as one of his top-five male players of all time. Borg was the only player mentioned in four categories: Borg also never won the Australian Open, as he only played in the event once, in as a year-old.
Even though it was then played on grass, a surface where he enjoyed much success, Borg chose to play the Australian Open only once, in , where he lost in the third round. Phil Dent , a contemporary of Borg, has pointed out that skipping Grand Slam tournaments—especially the Australian Open—was not unusual then, before counting Grand Slam titles became the norm.
I think he could have won the Grand Slam, but by the time he left, the historical challenge didn't mean anything. He was bigger than the game. He was like Elvis or Liz Taylor or somebody. His highly unorthodox backhand involved taking his racket back with both hands but actually generating his power with his dominant right hand, letting go of the grip with his left hand around point of contact, and following through with his swing as a one-hander. Borg was one of the first top players to use heavy topspin on his shots consistently.
Both of these factors allowed Borg to be dominant at the French Open. Some experts attributed his dominance on this surface to his consistency, an underrated serve, equally underrated volleys, and his adaptation to grass courts.
Against the best players, he almost always served-and-volleyed on his first serves but he naturally played from the baseline after his second serves.
His calm court demeanor earned him the nickname of the "Ice Man" or "Ice-Borg. He could outlast most of his opponents under the most grueling conditions. Contrary to popular belief, however, this wasn't due to his exceptionally low resting heart rate, often reported to be near 35 beats per minute.
In his introduction to Borg's autobiography My Life and Game, Eugene Scott relates that this rumor arose from a medical exam the year-old Borg once took for military service, where his pulse was recorded as Scott goes on to reveal Borg's true pulse rate as "about 50 when he wakes up and around 60 in the afternoon. Europe won the contest 15 points to 9, with Roger Federer achieving a narrow vital victory over Nick Kyrgios in the last match played.