by Patrick Nilsson
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Stefan Edberg talks during the breakfast meeting at the Kristianstad Arena
Peter "Foppa" Forsberg recently won this year's Mästarnas Mästare. Stefan Edberg has a standing invitation to the TV show - but has so far declined. - Sometimes I look at the program, but it is not a natural environment for me and then I will decline, says the tennis legend who visited Kristianstad Arena during a breakfast meeting.
Stefan Edberg was invited by Marknadsföreningen NordostSkåne and Sparbanken Skåne as the meeting host and the interest was huge to say the least. The restaurant in Kristianstad Arena was packed when Håcan Nilsson began talking with Stefan Edberg.
So, during a very entertaining hour Stefan Edberg told anecdotes from his active career, but we also got a glimpse of what life the former world number one is living today.
Stefan Edberg lives with his family in a farm just outside Växjö and after his years as a tennis legend he has devoted much of his time to managing the fortune he amassed during his career. Edberg is also a shareholder in Case Asset Management.
But just as offensive he was as a player, as defensive and cautious he is when it comes to the stock market.
- It's about spreading risk. I have shares but also corporate bonds, an agricultural property and so I place a part of my money, says Stefan Edberg, describing the world financial situation as exciting, but uncertain.
Stefan Edberg grew up in Västervik with a father who was a policeman and a mother who got him to start playing tennis in the local association.
A good environment to grow up in.
- We had a great coach and ten or fifteen guys who invested heavily in the sport, says Stefan.
When asked how parents should be with their children, Stefan replies:
- Supporting, that's the main thing. Then I find it hard to see how to play sports without having to focus on results.
Stefan Edberg quit school after grade 9. Today, he urges Swedish tennis talents to continue studying.
- You can study at a distance or via the Internet. It is important to have an education. Today it is after all, only four percent of the players on the ATP tour who keep themselves with tennis.
For 16 years Stefan Edberg lived in London. In 2000 the family moved back to a rural property just outside Växjö. And here they still live.
- The best thing we've done, especially for our children. London is certainly the best city in the world, but the silence and calmness of Småland stands on top of anything.
The 50-year-old is living a rather quiet life today, at good distance from the spotlights. And he has no need to appear in programs like “Mästarnas Mästare” or “Let's Dance”.
- They call almost every year.
- A year they actually didn’t call. And then I thought... I'll call them. Joking aside, I know my limitations and that's not my scene.
picture © Bosse Nilsson
However Stefan told he would come to the Sports Gala along with Björn Borg and Mats Wilander to be honored for their actions in the style of the celebration Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg and Niklas Lidström had over the years.
- Absolutely. Three tennis greats on the same stage. I'd love to stand there.
The stories were many. Laughs even more. Håcan Nilsson pulls up a match Stefan Edberg had repressed. A meeting with Jonas Björkman at the US Open.
- When I was at home in Växjö we always trained together and I think I never lost a set against him during training. Then I lost the first set and thought: “What am I doing?”. When I lost also the second set, I got half a panic. And the fact is that Jonas won in three straight sets.
What did you say?
- Ha, ha. Jonas gossiping? Well, I was not happy when we shook hands after the match and I said something like “Christmas Eve has never come so early as this year”.
Few players on the ATP tour were equally respected for their professionalism and sportsmanship as Stefan Edberg. He was awarded five times with the ATP Sportsmanship Award and in connection with Edberg’s retirement the ATP renamed the prize after him: The Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award.
Stefan Edberg has not lost contact with the sport or Swedish tennis. Along with Calle Hageskog and Magnus Larsson, he started a tennis facility in Växjö which runs the country's first tennis university.
picture © Bosse Nilsson
- It should be seen as a Swedish alternative to colleges in the United States.
Stefan Edberg also has his own "Edberg Foundation" which awards scholarships to young, promising players every year.
- We reward two guys and two girls aged 14-16 years and last year we gave out nearly 500,000 SEK, says Stefan, who has his opinion on how Sweden can climb back the world rankings.
- First and foremost we must train more and better coaches. The leaders will educate the children.
He himself has not put the racket on the shelf.
- I'll practice with my son (Christopher) tomorrow.
Who is winning?
- Haha... so far dad is winning, but it’s about to change.
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