from Sun Sentinel
by Charles Bricker
The Sport Will Miss A Great Sportsman When Stefan Edberg Retires This Year.
Stefan Edberg, bless his kind and gentle soul, checked in at No. 55 on the ATP Tour computer last week.
It's sad to watch the demise of an endangered species, the professional sportsman, especially in the final year of his career, when he was hoping for a more or less upbeat finish to 13 years of serve-and-volley greatness.
Still, he will retain his No. 1 standing on the ball kids' list, no matter how many steps he loses as he fades into retirement. It was at the Lipton Championships a year ago that an informal poll of the children who shag balls for the pros named Edberg their favorite.
"He's the only one who says thank you when you give him a bottle of water on the changeovers," said one youth.
Edberg laughed slightly. An embarrassed laugh, perhaps. "That is the way I was raised," he said.
He comes to Lipton this week, where he has been a fixture since the tournament's inception and he will be, of course, as gracious in this last appearance as he was in his first.
On Friday night, the tournament will toast him. Any patron, Swedish or not, who arrives with a face painted blue and yellow, the national colors, will enter at half-price.
Edberg is sure to take this tribute with his usual half-smile. There will be no overt expressions of joy, even if he secretly wants to hug every fan in the stadium.
He will not miraculously win Lipton. He probably won't win any tournament this year. At 30, he can still compete against the best. Two weeks ago, Edberg defeated Todd Martin, 13-2 at the time, in Scottsdale, Arizona. But his staying power has retreated and he will be the first to tell you that he no longer is as motivated as he once was.
One more Grand Slam victory was what he prayed for these last few years. He hoped his serve-and-volley game would carry him through to the Wimbledon final. But he went out in the second round in 1994 and 1995 and, after the last failure, he seriously began thinking about quitting the game.
"I had some tough losses, especially at Wimbledon, and things started to go in my mind," he said. "I felt last year that things had become much tougher. You need to be hungry all the time. I'm not sure I am."
The decision to quit wasn't dramatic and didn't come one night over dinner with his wife, Annette. It was more gradual and, just before the Australian Open, he announced this would be his final season.
He formed the Stefan Edberg Foundation to help young Swedish tennis players and dedicated the year to funding it.
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- Edberg to Retire With Style and in Style
- Edberg, one more year and then good-bye
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