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"I have always just wanted to play good tennis, trying not to be different from what I was, I am. I've never tried to create an image of myself that doesn't correspond to the truth, a concern that many of today's players seem to have, instead" - Stefan Edberg on his personality. Read the interview

My Stefan watching career - by Joanne Cox -

by Joanne Cox


Stefan Edberg and Annette Olsen at the Queen's Club in 1990 (picture contributed by Joanne Cox)

For me Stefan Edberg is the most graceful and stylish player I have had the privilege to see play live.  Roger Federer emulates Stefan’s classic style and sportsmanship on court as well as his exemplary behaviour off court.  It is fitting that Stefan is Roger’s tennis idol.  Both players are my favourite players of all time (I am sure all Stefan fans agree!!).

I was very lucky to be able to see Stefan play live in Australia, London and Sweden.  I lived in London during the peak of Stefan’s career [1990-1992] and saw him play six times in 1990 during the Wimbledon Championships alone.  I won men’s semi final tickets in the Wimbledon ballot; the public can only purchase tickets in the ballot up to the quarter final stage.  You can officially queue overnight for tickets by camping in the golf course car park across the road.  I bought tickets for Stefan’s first five matches as you buy them on the day so know the schedule of play and which players are on what court.  I saw him beat Lendl in three sets then Becker beat Ivanesevic to play off for a third straight time in the final.  Unfortunately I did not get tickets for the final!


Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras playing doubles together at the Queen's Club in 1990 (picture contributed by Joanne Cox)

I also saw Stefan play a number of times at the Wimbledon lead up event of Queen’s Club from 1990-1992, including winning the title in 1991.  1990 was the year Stefan’s good friend Pete Sampras first showed the world his great talent.  The two played doubles that year meaning we got to see them practice together every day and play singles and doubles!!

During my ‘Stefan watching career’ I was also able to visit Stockholm (1990), Melbourne (1994) and Malmo (1996), the last being the very special occasion of Stefan’s final career event in the Davis Cup final against France.  Tragically Stefan twisted his ankle during his first singles match, which severely hampered his ability to play his serve and volley game, and he did not take any further part in the tie.  France won the title but Yannick Noah raised Stefan on his shoulders and the French team carried Stefan around the stadium!  It was a doubly sad way to see Stefan depart tennis but the love and respect shown for him by Yannick especially was wonderful to see.

I was able to get Stefan’s autograph at Queen’s club a number of times (after his practices) and even talked to Tony Pickard several times.  Most memorably, when Stefan had lost in the first round in Paris in 1990, he entered Beckenham (south of London) to get more grass court practice.  I spoke to Tony and asked if Stefan was ok after that loss and how it would impact on his Wimbledon preparations.  I will always remember the reply: “Oh yes, the boy will be fine.  Grass is different to the clay”!  How right he was as Stefan was in the best grass court form of his career that year.

My love of Stefan, and tennis, has remained over the years since Stefan retired and I am lucky enough to live in Melbourne where I indulge my passion annually at the ‘happy slam’ each January.  Particularly I love watching Roger Federer play his exquisite stylish form of tennis.  I truly lament the sad demise of Swedish tennis, even if Robin Soderling returns to the top of tennis it will only be a stay of execution for a once strong and proud tennis nation.  My photos and videos of Stefan’s matches are more cherished as the years go by.  I would love to see Stefan play live again, I hope he will come back to Melbourne where he is so adored.

My Stefan watching career - by Joanne Cox -

 

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