From Los Angeles Times
by Julie Cart
A few thoughts on the announcement by Stefan Edberg that he will retire after next season:
- The sport will miss his playing style more than it knows. Edberg is one of the last all-court players. He's a serve-and-volley player whose serve can be detected by the naked eye. His volley is textbook and Edberg is light on his feet, swift in a way that defines grace and movement of another era.
He's not some hulking monster who blasts a serve and stands rooted to the baseline, should the serve be returned. He's deft, subtle and always thinking. He constructs points. His is compelling, interesting tennis and the game needs much more of it.
- Edberg is and has always been a professional. That means he's aware of the full range of his responsibilities, including schmoozing with sponsors and meeting reporters.
Edberg is not an extrovert and doesn't look forward to news conferences or interviews. But early in his career he decided to make the best of the situation, to always take the high road and smile even when asked the same question for the umpteenth time.
At the U.S. Open, when each of his news conferences opened with "When are your going to retire?" Edberg could have lost his temper. Instead, he laughed.
- He has always been a voice of reason and integrity. Edberg never bailed out of a tournament with a trumped up injury, then turned up at a lucrative exhibition the same week.
It was amusing to watch Edberg's reaction during all the Davis Cup hubbub at the tournament at Indian Wells last spring.
While the USTA was waving the flag at a news conference, congratulating Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras for returning to the fold for Davis Cup--after they had negotiated bonus money and transportation on the Concorde--Edberg was in another room giving his thoughts about Davis Cup.
Edberg always made himself available to the Swedish federation for Davis Cup duties, even during the first-round matches.
Agassi, especially, spoke about how difficult it was to fit Davis Cup into the hectic schedule of a top-10 player. Edberg, who fell out of the top 10 this year for the first time in 10 years, could only laugh at that assessment.
"It's a question of commitment," he said. "You either want to play Davis Cup or you don't. If you do, you make space in your schedule. It's simply a matter of planning. Davis Cup is important to me and I've been pretty busy too. I've always managed to fit it in my schedule."
Coming from Edberg, it was a scathing dressing down about priorities and honesty.
- The reason Edberg seems so normal is because he is. He has interests and concerns outside himself and tennis, which in the insular world of the professional tour, makes him unusual.
Edberg always travels with his wife, Annette, and their 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Emilie. It was a common sight at last year's Australian Open to see Edberg wheeling his daughter around Melbourne's city parks in her stroller.
It comes as no surprise, too, to hear that Edberg plans to establish a foundation to promote development of junior tennis players in Sweden.
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