An article from: Bravo
by Ralf Brunkow
Contributed by Petra Moor
Translated into English by Doris
BRAVO: On January 19th you celebrated your 20th birthday. Do you regret it that you aren't a teenager any longer?
Stefan: Oh no, it's a good age to be a "twen". I want to stay 20 years old forever. I have achieved so much in tennis in the last 3 years - I'm really happy about this and wish that time would stand still.
Where were you born?
Do you have any siblings?
Yes, a little brother who is 12. He also plays tennis.
Is he envious about the success of his older brother? Does he also want to become a tennis star one day?
No, I don't think so. He only plays tennis for his own pleasure.
So you don't have any other brothers and sisters?
No, that's all my parents produced.
What's your father's job?
He is a policeman.
And your mother?
She's a wife, mother and housekeeper.
What's the name of your father, mother and brother?
My father is called Bengt, my mother Barbro and my brother Jan.
When did you decide to become a professional tennis player and start a career?
It was shortly before I finished school. I was 16 years old. I had practiced a lot already, but from then on I did it even more intensively and seriously.
Have you made this decision for a career on your own or has someone influenced you?
No, it was me alone. My parents always allowed me the freedom over myself and to decide on my own what I wanted to do. I always could have gone back to school and quit with tennis... It became too difficult to learn for school and to practice tennis at the same time.
But you have finished with high school when you fully turned to tennis.
Yes, you are ready with high school here in Sweden when you are 16 years old.
When did you start to play tennis? It must have been early in your life.
Yes, I was 7 years old.
When have you discovered that you have such a talent for this sport?
It was when I was 11 years old and started to win all the times against players of my age. When I was 11 years old I also won my first big tournament.
Did you have other job ambitions in your life? Maybe to become a policeman like your father?
No, not really. I never had the usual child dreams about a job.
Were your parents pleased about your career choice?
Yes, they are now. But they would have never prevented me from it. They are happy that I earn much money but it's surely not the only reason...
Which other reasons do you have to be happy about your job?
Just to play. Tennis is so much fun. I can enjoy my life, travel through the world, and have money to spend - even though I'm very careful with it. But it is nice to have the money to have a good time with your friends and to be able to afford something. So it's not just tennis which my life is about.
The more you win and climb up in the rankings the more you have to practice in order to keep you in shape. Isn't this a huge burden and restrict to have fun in your life?
Yes, practice is very often really hard, but it isn't too much for me.
What exactly do you do to have fun in your life and to enjoy your earned money?
Difficult question. I go out a lot. Discos for example. I relax with my friends. I don't do anything special. From time to time I dine out with friends.
Do you have a girlfriend?
No, I haven't.
So you leave, so to speak, "the door open"?
I wouldn't say it like this but you know I really don't like to talk about this, especially not in the press.
Ok, just as you please. Do you have some kind of interests, hobbies, sports or the like?
No other sports, no. Only a little bit of football sometimes for fun.
And apart from that?
Not really something. Oh wait, I listen to a lot of music.
"Dire Straits", Mark Knopfler - that's my favorite band. I like most of the rock bands.
Do you like heavy metal?
No, I can't stand it. I prefer music with a "soft touch". "Genesis" and Phil Collins for example. I also like "Simple Minds" and Pat Benatar.
Have you ever tried to play an instrument?
For Chrissake, no! I don't have a talent for this.
You surely have a great car. Which one?
A BMW528i in diamond black with colorful vertical stripes. German cars are really the best ones. I already have some good and expensive things for my age.
Do you want to make a pilot's licence?
No, I'm not interested in flying at all. But I bought myself a great big hi-fi system.
Do you still live together with your parents in Sweden?
No, I live in London, Kensington, since one and a half years. I have my own apartment. It's easier there for me and playing tennis. Apart from this I really like London more than Monte Carlo where Boris Becker is living due to the taxes in Germany. I like London the best amongst all the big cities.
Do you live alone there?
Yes, but as I already said I don't want to get asked about it anymore please.
According to newspaper articles you are happy that you aren’t followed and watched that much by the press as Boris Becker for example. You would prefer it this way. Is it true?
Well, he is a national hero in Germany and in Sweden we have more players like me who have a big name – Wilander, Jarryd and Nyström. Beside this, mentality in Sweden is different from Germany. More cold and reserved.
Do you get recognized on the streets in London and approached?
No, not really. Well, I’m not Boris Becker and prefer it like this.
Talking about Boris Becker. What’s your opinion as a professional tennis player: do you think it’s dangerous for Boris to climb so high so fast at his age?
It could be dangerous for him but I think that he manages everything great. I don’t think that he has any problems with his success but of course you can’t foresee the future. I have to say I’m happy that the newspapers don’t write such stories about me as about him – with the girls and all this stuff. Thanks God the press is only interested in me playing tennis and I hope it stays like this.
Don’t the journalists ask you something in order to find out what kind of person you are?
Of course they do. I’m a really quiet and ordinary person. They must have found out all by now and therefore leave me alone. I think it’s better for me especially as I’m travelling through the world for 11 months. It would be terrible if the press pumped me everywhere. The journalists are weary of us Swedes and leave us alone because we are all so retiring. We travel together most of the time.
You are just 2 years older than Boris so it’s easy to say that you will be playing against each other for the #1 ranking soon.
Why should I sound like an oracle now? Let’s wait and see what the future brings. Of course we will compete one day for the #1. I know his game and have already played against him a few times. I think he is a nice guy.
Do you speak German apart from English?
To speak is carrying things too far. I understand most of it. I learned it in school. But I'd better not talk German – I would only make a fool of myself…
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