The Tennis Greats: Bjorn Borg
In any pantheon of the finest tennis players ever to pick up a racquet, there is no excuse for leaving out the name of Sweden’s Bjorn Borg. Noted by many for his rivalry with John McEnroe as well as his eleven Grand Slam titles, Borg was in many ways McEnroe’s polar opposite. Cool where McEnroe was calm, patient while McEnroe was aggressive, Borg was the kind of tennis player who simply had greater natural talent than virtually all of his opponents. No coach tried to change his unorthodox hitting style – they knew better than to do so.
To look at Borg one would not have thought that he was the great tennis player he undoubtedly was. A bow-legged running style may not have looked fast, but it was. A strong muscular frame may have suggested he could not play with grace and touch, but he did. His six French Open titles are a tour record, although this seems set to be surpassed by a very similar player in Rafael Nadal. His count of eleven Grand Slam titles is all the more surprising when one considers that Borg, like many of his contemporaries, routinely skipped the Australian Open.
This means that Borg never managed the full calendar Grand Slam or the career version of winning all four majors (the calendar version being all four tournaments in a year). However, for the quality of his game and his incredible battles with McEnroe – during which the American never lost his cool, perhaps becoming infused with some of his rival’s poise – he will be remembered for as long as tennis is played.