from Tennis de France (issue of May 1990)
by Dominique Bonnot
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Clipping dedicated to STE...fans donor Mahtab Moayeri with a huge thank you from all the community!
Stefan Edberg might be number one before or after Roland Garros, or even later. Ambitious, but not in a hurry, Edberg loves what is more simple in life. And it is in France, in the region of Mougins, that he chose to spend most of his time. He himself explains why.
If the French do not pay much attention to Stefan Edberg - certainly much less than Swedes, English or Japanese do - Edberg is very interested in France. So much, that he just bought a little unpretentious apartment in the area of Mougins, where he's going to spend happy days with his girlfriend Annette.
Stefan Edberg or the art of French living adapted to the Swedish mentality. To make his staying easier in this region that he has chosen especially for its mild climate, Stefan intends to learn French, which, apparently, was not obvious the day he left the town of Vastervik and even now, when he comes to take a little bit of conversation in French, he's packed. But Stefan, as with anything close to his heart, will take all the time he needs. For the simple pleasure of ordering himself in the small and discreet chic restaurants in the hinterland of Nice.
It is also around a good table in Mougins that we met him for a short leisurely aperitif, during which it was easy to see how Edberg is fond of the region. This did not prevent him from practising in the morning and afternoon in Sophia Antipolis, the former "shelter" for Patrice Hagelauer, always popular with the stars of the tour at the time of tournaments like Nice and Monte Carlo.
The more time he spends, the more Stefan will feel at home in the shade of pine trees, as, even if he still resides in London, he counts to make his new house his "main second home."
This pleasure, which he could not resist, will also help his interests. Stefan becomes every day more and more French and it is in front of "his" crowd that he will play the Roland Garros in a few weeks. With the firm intention to win the tournament and become a steady world number one.
Oh, Stefan does not make a lot of noise. He knows how to keep it simple and discreet. He knows that he will never deny the education he received from his father, a policeman in a small Swedish town, that never Annette (to which he devotes all his free time from tennis) will deny the values he inherited from his family from the working class. But, lulled by the scent of lilac and bougainvillea, Stefan Edberg is quietly getting used to the idea of taking, sooner or later, the top spot of tennis world.
You are now living in France. Why have you chosen France and why precisely the French Riviera?
I started to like France more and more gradually as I discovered it. I came here for tournaments, then for a holiday and since long enough, I had the idea of finding a foothold in the region of Mougins. Because I love France in general and French cooking in particular.
Is this a personal or professional choice? Have you chosen to settle in France in order to improve your game on clay, for example?
No, no, absolutely not. This choice has nothing to do with tennis. It is a personal approach. I chose to live in France just for fun. When I was in Sweden, there was much talk of the Cote d'Azur and I love walking around in villages as Mougins, dine in small nice restaurants where you eat well. Nothing to do with tennis.
Is it the art of French living that attracts you?
I am Swedish and I still would live as a Swede, there is no reason I put myself in the French lifestyle. I love French food, but I will not, for example, sit at the table for dinner at ten o'clock in the evening, like the French do. Just as I will not drink wine at lunch. Let's say I live in France like a Swede, and that is precisely what I was looking for. I also quite like the French mentality. People here are much more open than in Sweden. It's more relaxed. Here in France, I'm ten times more relaxed than in Sweden. It's much quieter.
Don't you have a little problem with the French language?
That's my main concern, indeed, the language. I do not speak French and I regret it. But for a Swedish, French is a very difficult language to learn. I also feel frustrated when I can not understand, but I'm already starting to remember words and I hope to be able to speak it one day.
How much time are you planning to spend in France in a year, for example?
I would not go for very long periods, but several times for some days, and altogether it will be something like seven to eight weeks in a year. About two months. I wish I could stay longer, but there are tournaments all the time and, again, I kept my residence in London.
If somewhere in the world someone asked you: "Stefan, where do you live?", what would you answer?
I would say London because the question involves you give the location of your primary residence. I would say this house here near Mougins is my second home.
Are there other reasons than the well known tax problems why Swedes should not live in Sweden?
If I were 18, and I hadn't got tax problems, may be I would decide to stay in Sweden, at least for the primary residence. Although from October to May the weather is not very nice and life (especially in winter) can sometimes seem a bit dull. It is elsewhere including here in France, you can live another life than in Sweden. You can play golf, you can walk, discover another way of living. Personally, I chose London at first because, although I've always liked the Cote d'Azur, Monte Carlo did not really attract me when I had to decide. In addition, the language problem had urged me to the easier, that is to say London. Today, I settled in the region, while keeping my base in London. That's exactly how things happened.
Although, initially, your installation in France is purely related to your tastes, does it some way allow you to consider Roland Garros in another perspective, with perhaps more confidence?
Sure. The result of last year encouraged me to do well this year and, indeed, the fact of having a link with France will help me, I would feel more comfortable than usual.
What symbolizes Roland Garros for you?
Before I saw Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian, like tournaments where I had more chances of winning than at Roland Garros. Having made the final last year confirms my idea that Roland Garros is not a tournament where I have to make up the numbers. Now this is a tournament that I can win.
What are your memories of last year's final against Chang? The feeling of missing a chance to win the tournament, just because you never expected to find yourself so close to the goal?
It's hard to say. Indeed, I have a feeling that this match was played on maybe one or two points and maybe in fact that little difference was a matter of confidence, but I can not tell. The most important is that I'm now at Roland Garros to win it. If not this year, maybe it will be for next year, but there is no reason why I should not win one day at Roland Garros.
You have to be very aware that you are close to the world n. 1 spot. Now, you said that you were delighted when the media held you a bit away from the race for this title between Becker and Lendl. The question about this place of n. 1 is do you really want it and are you ready to take it?
Since my victory at the Masters, I'm much more confident that the number one place is my main goal. In fact I feel less pressure on me if someone talks about Becker and Lendl, but that does not change my goal to become world number one. This will depend on big tournaments coming up: Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. I 'm ready.
When you look at the number ones, they sometimes have a difficult future, like Borg, McEnroe, Wilander, Lendl. Does this not scare you a little bit?
I do not want to know how it will be when I'm number one, I'm aiming at being n.1. This is what tempts me and I'll see what comes of it when I will be. I think if I can keep my personality unchanged, there will be no problem. It does not scare me. It's all about, I guess, always creating other challenges, keeping the instinct to win alive... win Roland Garros three times, Wimbledon three times, remain a long time at the top, and so on...
Do you think your game style, based on attack, is an advantage to keep the motivation? For example, do you have fun in training?
Yes, of course. I have a game that allows me to have fun, even in practice. This is much easier to have fun when trying to finish the points then when you simply wait for the opponent to make a mistake. Practice, like matches, is for me much more an enjoyment than a constraint, even on clay, which was not the case before. I grew up on clay, yet it took me a while to find my way. But now it's good. I feel comfortable on all surfaces.
We know that you are appreciated in Japan, already widely considered as the world n.1 in hearts, whereas in France you are less famous than Becker or even Agassi. Can you explain this phenomenon?
Japanese mentality is exactly what I represent: Swedish, blond, very reserved, quiet, attacking. In France, these criteria do not necessarily come primarily in the interests that the crowd may have for a tennis player. But it does not matter, it does not bother me because when I finish my career I would like to be remembered as a very great tennis player and not as a celebrity.
Edberg believed he was a poor claycourt player
Stefan Edberg vividly remembers Franck Février, the famous French junior who had the honor of facing him on the Centre Court at Roland Garros in 1983, in the final of the under 18 event and that he had logically beaten. He even asked for news of him!
Naturally, Edberg evoked the days when he thought he was bad on clay. A misconception that he made of himself and that has gradually faded last year, with each match he played before Roland Garros, including Davis Cup against Austria in the quarterfinals on clay. Leaving just talk snowshoeing without questions, he saved Sweden from defeat by winning his singles and doubles matches.
Speaking of his final lost against Chang last year, Edberg said: "This close defeat against Chang has changed a lot for me, as if I had won, no one should have tried to draw hasty conclusions about my "numerous" final defeats (note: Edberg lost six times in the final last year in Scottsdale, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, Basel and Bercy). Personally, I've never felt pursued by an evil spell. I had a precise explanation for each one of these defeats. But I passed for a player who lost in the finals and, suddenly, I hate to cut short any discussion. That's why my Masters title against Becker made me so happy."
Davis Cup side, Edberg said he was very touched by the defeat of Sweden in the first round (against Italy, when he did not play because he was injured) and intends to play the play-off in September. Edberg loves France, but always dreams in blue and yellow.
- Would you have liked Stefan dressed like this?
- Edberg: "Federer not helped by Lenglen Court"
- Federer has the best volley today. But Edberg...
- SVT Sports meets Federer and Edberg
- Federer eases through first round
- Edberg's unique accomplishment
- The child of fortune
- Edberg Officially In Wilson's Court
- Edberg Comfortable at the Top
- Edberg's overtaking
- Stefanello's fall
- Edberg soon number one?
- Agassi finds place in sun, dominates Edberg
- Edberg Silences Agassi With a Touch of Class
- Stefan's desert