by Mauro Cappiello
Starting from this Sunday, STE...fans is proud to share some exclusive English anticipations of "När vi var bäst" (When we were the best), the book on the Golden Age of Swedish tennis by Mats Holm and Ulf Roosvald that is quickly becoming a best seller in Sweden.
Björn Borg with his coach and Sweden's captain Lennart Bergelin just after the 1975 Davis Cup triumph
The house that holds the rights of the volume, Kontext Agency, is still pursuing the chance of an English language edition and, in order to raise international attention around this extraordinary work, chose right us to publish some English excerpts that would serve as an appetizer for a worldwide audience.
The book will be internationally called "Grand Slamers - the lives of Björn Borg, Stefan Edberg & Mats Wilander".
We thought it would be intriguing to share the anticipations in three parts, dedicating one to each of the protagonists of the Swedish Legend, starting from Björn Borg today to arrive to Stefan Edberg in a crescendo of interest (from our perspective, of course.)
Björn Borg during his match against Jiri Hrebec at the 1975 Davis Cup final
The excerpt you can download at the link below is taken from the chapter called "A new gang in town". Holm's and Roosvald's narration takes readers back to 1975, the year in which the Swedish tennis wave exploded with the first Davis Cup victory for the team led by Borg, that beat Czechoslovakia at the Kungliga Tennishallen in Stockholm.
In that season finale, the Swedish capital city was home of two of the major tennis events in the world: not only the final of the Davis Cup, but also the Year-End Masters (that Borg would lose in the final against Ilie Nastase) with the eight top tennis players battling for the title of world champion. Beyond, a charity exhibition to help cancer patients was also organized, putting tennis legend Rod Laver and home rising star Björn Borg against each other.
It's right this apparently minor event, if compared with the other two, that gives the authors the chance to go deep into the political changes in Sweden that created the breeding ground for the development of tennis as a mass phenomenon.
A package of highly impacting reforms carried on by the Social Democrat government led by Olof Palme establishes Sweden as a leading welfare nation, a State based on social integration, with school and education placed as basement of the system.
And in schools a new generation grows up inspired by the values of sports, with the desire of being a tennis (and no longer hockey) champion, following the footsteps of the new hero, Björn Borg.
Björn Borg, or, as it was usually pronounced: byurnborry, with no pause between the fore- and surnames, had changed Sweden. Ingemar Stenmark’s slalom runs could bring the country to a standstill for a few minutes. The national ice hockey and football teams could create moments of euphoria. But Borg got deeper, to a more existential, complex level. You didn’t love him – he seemed too different for that – but you admired him, amazed at what he was achieving with his own two hands, you couldn’t stop thinking about him.
The media system rides on what is called "a new tennis hysteria". Borg is on the magazine covers and newspapers front pages, TVs and radios broadcast matches and high audience rates convince even the American based managers of the sport that, silently but unstoppably, Stockholm is becoming the new centre of the tennis world.
|"När vi var bäst" |
by Mats Holm and Ulf Roosvald
published by Offside
pp. 276, kr225 (€26 - US$33)
Purchase the book in Swedish»
- Book on history of Swedish tennis available in English
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