In an interview from March of last year released by "A Bola" in Lagos, Portugal, during the inauguration of the Cascade Resort Sports Academy, Stefan Edberg speaks of his life after tennis, today's game and Agassi's biography "Open".
from A Bola (March 26th, 2010)
by Nuno Paralvas
Translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
The former tennis star spoke like on court: calm, articulate, rational, sober and assertive. He quit playing 14 years ago but keeps an eye out for tennis, having fun in some tournaments for veterans. But little else. He dedicates more time to business and also prefers that his children not follow his footsteps. Find out why...
Stefan's interview with "La Bola"
- You quit tennis in 1996 after a career of great success. How did you first fill your free time?
I spend most of my time in Sweden, where I live. My children go to school, I bring them and get them often. I do not travel a lot and I dedicate myself to my main job, which has to do with financial products and real estate. Tennis is still part of my life, but now less significantly than before.
- Do you miss it?
To be honest ... not! Maybe people think I should miss playing at the highest level. It was very good to have had the opportunity to play professional tennis, but a career lasts 10 or 15 years and there are other things to do in life. I felt the need to quit but I’ve always maintained some contacts. I didn’t leave tennis completely, I still have the pleasure to practice and play. It's good to play just one hour, sweat a bit. I feel good and that's what I do every week.
- How old are your children?
My son Christopher is 13 and my daughter Emilie 17.
- Needless to ask if they play tennis.
[Laughs] Christopher does, Emilie doesn’t.
- Do you think he liked to follow his father’s example?
No. I think they like to play sports but do not think of being professionals, which, in some ways, is very good for me. Being professional is good, but requires hard work and long hours of dedication. Not everyone needs to reach the highest level to take pleasure from sports.
- You recently won an ATP Champions Tour tournament where you beat John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic [he interrupts]...
... I can still beat some of the older [laughs].
- Couldn’t you overcome some of the younger?
No! Tennis has changed, it became very physical. Today's players are very strong, hit the ball harder and technology also helped, especially the strings of the racquets that allow better spins. Nadal and Federer raised the level of the game. The best are really good and the game is interesting. There are new talents that can compete against them. For example Del Potro, Murray, Cilic, Djokovic, Roddick.
- Do you think you have a chance to win a set against Federer?
No, no, no [laughs]. Maybe a game, but there is no comparison possible. They are the best, train every day and are much younger. The difference is very big and for me it was much better 20 years ago. But
I think it could still have a good time training with them. Now a game... would be very hard!
- Many people say Federer is the best player ever. What is your opinion?
I absolutely agree. I can’t see another player as complete. He has a winning record in Grand Slams. In addition to his fantastic record he has a chance to continue to win some more tournaments, which is extraordinary. He's the one I enjoy the most watching.
- Which other players do you also admire?
Cilic has a great talent and could become one of the best in the world, Djokovic has proved he can beat up with Federer and Nadal. There are many good, but for me Federer is above them, he is fantastic. In a way, I identify myself a little in the way he plays, very fluent. He can do many things with the ball, changing tactics and makes everything look easy on court. Also Nadal is amazing, his unusual physical form and his mental strength at crucial moments.
- Do you know some Portuguese players?
No. There were a few in my time, but... I don’t remember.
- Frederico Gil or Rui Machado?
- Portugal has great talents in football and few in tennis. Sweden continues to have great players. Is there any explanation for that to happen?
Obviously, in Portugal there are talents, but maybe they are forwarded to football. In first place in tennis infrastructures are needed. I think Portugal will have them, but also good coaches, good leadership. To be a good tennis player requires, besides an extensive knowledge of the game, to travel far to compete against the best and to evaluate the level of play. Surely that is good in Portugal, but players must be tested. It is necessary that already at 12 years of age you realize at which level you can play.
- Is this one of the reasons why Sweden has such good talents in tennis?
We had a golden generation, we had Bjorn Borg. Tennis became very popular and courts were built everywhere, the coaches were very good and worked hard. The results did not appear overnight. Everything takes time. After the golden generation, we continued to have good players.
- The ATP has a sportsmanship award named after you. What is your opinion about Andre Agassi’s decision to reveal consumption of drugs in a book?
Not a pretty story. It is a story that one doesn’t want to hear. I do not know which reasons led him to do it, nor read the book, but I learned of the issue and heard negative comments. I believe that all the people have freedom of speech and can do what they want, but I think it would be preferable to remember him for what he did on the court, without having to look at this kind of stuff. Nor it’s good to hear his regrets for the players who played against him.
- But that confession can’t serve as a warning?
Yes, indeed. It is a view that many people fear, in reality. All individuals, in a way or another, make mistakes. But he was an example and many now raise questions and look at him differently. That has changed. At least that's what I hear.
- Stefan Edberg & Tony Pickard Mr Class and his teacher
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- "Federer is exceptional, but tennis needs a new name too"
- "I am a happy person"
- Federer criticizes young players: "I wish they volleyed more"
- Stefan interviewed on the Australian Open
- Edberg: «It's hard for Djokovic to repeat 2011»
- The enjoyment of the children's chauffeur
- Stefan Edberg: «Nadal's golden age is over»
- Edberg: mental strength is the key for Del Potro
- Edberg backs Clijsters for Australian Open
- «It very often seethed inside me»
- Stefan Edberg supports young tennis promises
- «Federer is not so dominant anymore»
- Bring back the serve and volley, says Edberg