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Updated: 19 Jul 2020, 02:52
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"It's a special award and an honor for me. But I say to myself that I'm just too young to have that prize named after me. But I think in just a few years time the prize will be renamed after Roger Federer, because he's already got it so many times..." - Stefan Edberg on the Sportsmanship Award. Read the interview
from Davis Cup 1996 Official Yearbook
by Stefan Edberg
I am delighted to have been invited to provide the foreword for this book because I have always felt that being selected to represent your country is the greatest honour that can be bestowed on an athlete. I was only 18 when I was first chosen by Sweden to play in the Davis Cup and since that year, 1984, I have always been proud to play for my nation in a competition which is an integral, and essential, part of tennis.
I regard the Davis Cup as essential because tennis, especially professional tennis, is very much an individual sport. But when you are chosen to play Davis Cup you are part of a team fighting for your homeland in the world's greatest annual sporting competition. The tennis circuit is such a busy one that players sometimes find it difficult, not to mention inconvenient, to fit Davis Cup calls into their schedule. You may be in the middle of a hard court season when you are required to fly halfway round the world to compete on clay. But the vast majority of tennis players are aware that such sacrifices are well worth making, and the rewards are immense.
I remember my debut very clearly. It was as a doubles player, partnered by Anders Jarryd, in the tie against Paraguay at Bastad in 1984. We lost that match to Victor Pecci and Francisco Gonzalez. I didn't play particularly well, but the team won 4-1. Then we beat Czechoslovakia 5-0 before facing, and overcoming, a powerful United States team in the Final. Jarryd and I played our part, defeating the world's top doubles pair,John McEnroe and Peter Fleming.
That was such a great feeling, winning the Davis Cup the first year I had competed. Another great feeling was that our success brought tennis into many Swedish homes and helped boost the sport even more. Since that first victory I have been privileged to be a regular member of the Swedish team. Eventually I became used to the demands of such occasions but I had to work hard to adapt to those demands.
I was nervous on my debut in 1984 and I have to confess I was a little nervous, too, when I made my farewell to tennis by playing in my seventh Davis Cup Final against France in Malmo. And in my home country too! I have been fortunate enough to enjoy much success in my dozen years on the circuit, and many of my most memorable moments came in the wonderful atmosphere which is unique to the Davis Cup. Long may it flourish.
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