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An article from: Tennis Oggi
by Amanda Lanari
When the Stockholm tournament will greet with all the honours its hero Stefan Edberg, the world of racquet will lose the last representative of show-tennis. We interviewed for you the Swedish champion, who entered the history of our sport for his victories and his great sportsmanship
He won the Australian Open in 1985 and 1987, Wimbledon in 1988 and 1990, The US Open in 1991 and 1992. He reached the Roland Garros final in 1989. He was the world number one in 1990 and 1991. In his career he summed up 41 singles and 18 doubles tournaments, earning almost 20 million dollars. He is considered one of the most beloved and fair players on the ATP tour. Ladies and gentlemen, on the right of the umpire Stefan Edberg!
How many times, in the thirteen years of his career, have we heard the speakers of the most important tournaments introduce the Swedish champion this way, maybe before a final on the magical Wimbledon “Centre Court” against all-time rival Boris Becker? At least three, since the two tennis players met in the final match of London’s Slam for three consecutive years, from 1988 to 1990. In July, the Swede will tread the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s courts for the last time, as a professional, and for him those will be special moments, just like his two English victories have been.
“Tennis Oggi” wanted to interview him to give its readers a taste of this great tennis ace and true gentleman.
Stefan, when did you realize that the moment to retire had come?
I announced it some months ago, but I think I decided to make this step last summer, when I badly lost to Dick Norman at the Wimbledon second round.
Do you think you will miss the professional’s itinerant life?
Certainly at the beginning. It will be very tough and I will surely miss the matches, the strong emotions, the warmth from the crowd. I really hope to get used to it as soon as I can.
Did your wife somehow affect this decision of yours?
No, absolutely. It was all my decision, a personal choice Annette accepted.
Do you think your family will be deeply affected by this new life style?
I think so, because it will really be a huge change, especially for my wife. My daughter Emilie is still too young to understand what is happening.
Turning back time, would you be able to say which was your most important victory?
Without any doubt, my first Wimbledon triumph in 1988, when I beat Boris Becker in the final. Even if that wasn’t my first Grand Slam title, because I had already won the Australian Open in 1985 and 1987, I have to admit that to be awarded on the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s Centre Court had a very special taste.
Which was your toughest defeat, instead?
I say it with no hesitation: the final I lost at the French Open in 1989 against Michael Chang. It’s a slap in the face that remained indelible in my mind.
Who was the closest player to you during all these years?
We Swedes, as you know, are usually all very close. But my best friend has certainly been Anders Jarryd. We’ve always been very tight and together we won the doubles titles in Melbourne (1987) and New York (1987) and reached the final in Paris (1986).
And who was your greatest opponent?
I think the one between Boris Becker and me is to be considered an historical rivalry. Especially because we’ve always been very different, opposite I would say, both on and off the court.
Once you declared to be the last “serve and volley” player. Do you really believe there’s no other Stefan Edberg in modern tennis?
Correct, because tennis has changed today and the youngest are all very powerful. Becker, Krajicek, Stich still come to the net when they need it, but now they also belong to a more than “seasoned” generation.
Will tou really dedicate yourself to the Swedish young?
Yes, I have in mind to finance a program for my country’s new players, and in the future I think I will personally take care of it.
Talking about new players, how do you explain that Sweden has so many talents and Italy not?
In Sweden, clubs really do a great job and I have to say that the credit for our success is theirs more than the Swedish Federation’s. I think in Italy politics interfere too much with played tennis, and this doesn’t help at all.
Do you have any special plan for next January?
I’m going to start 1997 with three months of full vacation, to dedicate only to myself and my family. It will really be a huge change compared to the past. I won’t suffer.
And then? You’ll maybe have a coach career…
No, the journalists misunderstood this. I just replied to the ones who asked me that maybe I could think over this possibility.
In conclusion, do you feel like commenting the doping suspicions on Wilander and Novacek?
It’s a question I recently had to answer often. Personally, I don’t know what the truth is, but it’s clearly a very bad advertising for our sport. Especially in Sweden, where Mats is considered a real hero. Anyway, no matter how it ends, I think nobody will talk about it in a year, because it’s such an irrelevant episode compared to all the disgraces affecting the world!
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- Edberg, a kiss good-bye
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- Edberg's ordeal: «There's no more respect»
- Edberg to Retire With Style and in Style
- Edberg, one more year and then good-bye