Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg kisses the trophy after winning the Wimbledon singles championship in 1980. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Joel Drucker: Throwback Thursday - Bjorn Borg Wants To Be Alone

While such rivals as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were fiery, Bjorn Borg had built a reputation as a tranquil, subdued fellow. But as 1981 ended, the 25-year-old Borg launched his own rebellion. A world-weary Borg, toppled at the top of the rankings by McEnroe, informed tennis’ powers-that-be that at the start of 1982 that he would commit to playing only seven events – three less than the mandated minimum.

Very well, came the reply. Based on that, Mr. Borg, you must therefore play the qualifying of any tournaments you play – including the Grand Slams.

Borg did not play any events in the first three months of 1982. In April, he was given a wild card into Monte Carlo, losing handily in the quarters to Adriano Panatta. Later that month, the Swede honored a commitment he’d made to play the Alan King-Caesars Palace Tennis Classic in Las Vegas. Entered in the qualifying, Borg won his opening match versus a big-serving lefty from Michigan, Victor Amaya. Then, on April 20, he took on another American, veteran Dick Stockton. Stockton won that match 7-6, 1-6, 6-2. Said Stockton, “I don’t think he had his heart in the qualifying. I don’t think it was something he wanted to do.”

That ended Borg’s 1982. For the rest of the year he would play exhibitions, hinting that he planned a return to competition. But in January 1983, Borg announced his retirement from tennis. There would be one match in ’84, none from ’85-’90 and a scant dozen from ’91-’93, all of which he’d lose. Like his fellow Swede, famed actress Greta Garbo, Borg just wanted to be alone.

Politics… now players can take off time… but then…

Read more articles by Joel Drucker

Share This Story