by Rudy Novrianto
contributed by Albert Murdiono
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Stefan Edberg after his last ATP match in Stockholm against Niklas Kulti, sitting on a rocking chair, a goodbye present by the tournament organizers
Legendary Swedish player, Stefan Edberg, officially hangs racket. He did not want to be enslaved by the courts.
Sooner or later an athlete's performance is going to fade. But not only for that reason tennis player Stefan Edberg, 30, hung the racket. "I do not want to live enslaved by tennis, and just think of tennis throughout life. It would make me mad. I grew up with the belief that life should be enjoyed," he said.
So in the Davis Cup final, Sweden against France, in Malmö, Sweden, on Sunday last week, Edberg performed for the last time. "I want to carve gold ink on my last appearance in front of my supporters, in Sweden," said the father of one child from his marriage to photo model Annette Olsen.
Stefan Edberg, who made Swedish Davis Cup team stronger, is now ranked 14th in the latest version of the world ranking by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
The desire to quit surfaced at the end of 1995. The intention was never accomplished. But this time the farewell from the player born in the small town of Västervik, Sweden, won't just stop at his mouth.
It also made the supporters, who packed the Stockholm Royal Tennis Hall, shed tears while Edberg delivered a goodbye speech in November 1996. He retired in order to be closer to his family. "I think every person will experience moments like this. For 15 years I've been pursuing the tennis world, and have experienced all the bitter and the sweet. I will always remember you," said Edberg, full of emotion.
Edberg held a racket for the first time at the age of 7. But he was seriously involved in tennis and left school at the age of 16. The decision could not help his father Bengt's confusion. As a policeman, he heavily financed his children's wishes. What also made Bengt doubt was that there was no athlete in the family blood. Edberg's brother, Jan, instead liked computers more.
But Edberg didn't want to break his determination. "I actually played any major sport. Tennis is one of the few sports I was good at. And I was lucky because the court did not require a lot of expense," said Edberg, who grew up in a simple family. He assumes earnestness and hard work are a capital to be a professional.
His career was brilliant. As a young player, he was the first able to win the four titles in the junior Grand Slam tournament series. Namely at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 1983. With this result, Edberg turns out to be the world number one junior player. In the senior arena, he was able to win six Grand Slam titles. The Australian Open (1985; 1987), Wimbledon (1988; 1990), and the US Open (1991; 1992). He just failed at the French Open.
In the Grand Slam tournaments, Edberg is ranked third for number of victories: 177. He is only below the recordman Jimmy Connors (233) and Ivan Lendl (222). But Edberg is ranked number one player in junior and senior combined. In addition, he completed his collection of victories by winning the Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles, 1984.
Apparently Edberg was also terrific in doubles. His record is 17 times champion and 11 times a finalist. What also needs to be remarked is that only Edberg and John McEnroe were able to be ranked world n.1 both in singles and doubles. He is quite a legendary tennis player.
Even so, many observers, who thought the world tennis was slowly growing after the Swede Bjorn Borg era, compared Edberg to an old locomotive creeping slowly, although until then well into the goal. His attacking style of play, plus serve & volley, had also suggested doubts to tennis experts. They were more fixated in the style of Björn Borg, who constantly played from the baseline.
Actually, when interviewed, Edberg ranked his serve as the most perfect in the world. So also with his groundstrokes. He could hit the same ball accurately and hard, good with forehand or backhand. It was his coach, Tony Pickard, British Davis Cup player, who laid the foundation of Edberg's style of play. Pickard saw that, as a tall player (188 centimeters), he had got a strong capital for serve & volley style.
Throughout his career on the tennis court, Edberg collected a prizemoney of more than US$ 20 million or around Rp 46 billion. He recorded 41 singles tournament wins, including six Grand Slam titles. But all this was just the historical record. World tennis did not merely lose a compelling player, "Edberg is the greatest ambassador in the history of Swedish sport," said the Chief Executive of Professional Tennis Association, Larry Scott.
- Edberg: "Swedish tennis is still behind"
- The verdict on the future of our tennis: total darkness
- The 1996 US Open draw controversy
- Win the chance to meet Stefan Edberg at the Kings of Tennis
- Kings of Tennis, another year without Stefan Edberg
- «I should no longer do this to myself...»
- "The quiet and the wild"
- Becker trims Edberg to earn Queen's title
- Gentleman Stefan
- Edberg, a kiss good-bye