No modern Tennis player’s career has been so brief, yet so bright, as that of Swedish legend Bjorn Borg. The former world no. 1, who rose to prominence as a teenager, retired at the age of 26 when he decided to call it a day in January 1983. Born on this day in 1956 in Sodertalje, Sweden, Bjorn Rune Bjorg turned pro in 1973 and went on to register feats that would set him apart as one of the game’s all-time greats. The Swedish enigma who dazzled tennis courts in the 1970s and 1980s with his ability to serve-and-volley on grass and stick to the baseline on clay was the first man to master the art of winning effortlessly on both surfaces.
Despite his relatively short career, spanning 11 years, the head-banded, golden-locked Swede became the first male player to win 11 Grand Slam open era singles titles. Between 1974 and 1981, Borg won six French Open titles and five consecutive at Wimbledon. He also played in the Australian Open, featuring once as a 17-year-old and never played in Australia again. He was also a four-time runner-up at the US Open.
Known as the ‘Ice Man’ for his on/off-court demeanour, Bjorg also gave the world some of the best sports rivalries. His memorable matches with the likes of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Iva Lendl regales audiences even today.
As one of the greatest tennis players of all time turns 65, here’s a look at some of his prolific records:
- He represented Sweden in the Davis Cup, when he was just 15!
- Just before his 18th birthday (1974) he was the youngest winner of the Italian Championship.
- The same year, Borg was also the youngest winner of the French Championship when he defeated Spain’s Manuel Oranets. The record stood for eight years, until compatriot Mats Wilander, aged 17 then clinched the title at Roland Garros.
- He is the only player in the open era to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back in the same year. Known as ‘Channel Slam’ in tennis circuits, Borg is the only player to achieve a hat-trick of Channel Slam wins which he achieved in 1978,1979,1980.
- Borg had won three Grand Slam titles without dropping a set – 1976 Wimbledon, 1978 French Open and 1980 French Open. An open era record matched only by Illie Nastase (1973) and Rafael Nadal (2008 and 2010).
- He also has the highest Grand Slam win percentage of all-time. The Swede played in 157 Grand Slam matches and won a remarkable 141 of them, losing only 14 times in Grand Slams. With a staggering 89.81 win-percentage, Borg’s is the highest among all tennis athletes - male or female across all eras.
- His singles tally is equally phenomenal, as he has a win ratio of 82.74 per cent with 609 wins and 127 losses.
- Along with his record setting 11 Grand Slam crowns, Borg has 64 career titles and four pro career doubles titles to his name.
- The Hall of Famer (inducted in 1987) also owns a fashion label by his name.