Born on June 6, 1956, in Stockholm, Sweden, Björn Borg was introduced to tennis at age 9 and began playing for his country's Davis Cup team at 15. He won his first of six French Open championships at 18 and claimed five consecutive Wimbledon crowns before suddenly retiring at age 26. Borg later attempted a brief comeback in his 30s before enjoying success with his eponymous clothing label.
Childhood and Amateur Years
Björn Rune Borg was born on June 6, 1956, in Stockholm, Sweden, to parents Rune and Margarethe. Initially a hockey fan, Borg became enamored with tennis at age 9 when his father brought home a tennis racket he had won as a prize in a ping-pong tournament.
Borg caught the attention of tennis coach Percy Rosberg and began making regular three-hour round-trip train rides to meet with the instructor. He won his first tournament at age 11, and at 13 he won both the 13- and 14-year-old divisions of the Swedish National Junior Championships. His career on the upswing, he dropped out of school to devote himself to training full time.
Borg qualified for the Swedish Davis Cup team at age 15 and won both of his singles matches. After becoming the 1972 Wimbledon junior champion and winning events in Berlin, Barcelona and Miami, he elected to turn professional.
Borg first rose to prominence at Wimbledon in 1973, when adoring female fans lined up to get a glimpse of the handsome, mysterious Swede. His long blond hair tucked beneath a headband, Borg featured a distinct playing style with his two-handed backhand and topspin-heavy ground strokes. He won his first tournament just days before his 18th birthday, and two weeks later he became the then-youngest winner of the French Open.
In 1976, Borg defeated Ilie Nastase for the first of a record five consecutive Wimbledon championships (since tied by Roger Federer). The last title in that chain came after an epic 1980 finals win over John McEnroe, a four-hour showdown that included a marathon 34-point fourth-set tiebreaker. The two met for a rematch in the 1981 finals, with McEnroe finally snapping his opponent’s dominant run on Wimbledon grass.
Borg won his fourth consecutive French Open title and also reached the finals of the U.S. Open that year, but he realized he was losing the desire to continue competing at a high level. In January 1983, he stunned the sporting world by announcing his retirement at age 26. With his five Wimbledon and six overall French Open crowns, Borg was just shy of equaling Roy Emerson's then-record of 12 major championships. He had been the world’s No. 1-ranked player for a total of 109 weeks between 1977 and 1981 and walked away with a record 33-game win streak in Davis Cup play intact.
Borg was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. He attempted a comeback in 1991 but struggled to compete against younger pros with his old-fashioned wooden racket. He later joined McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and other old adversaries on the ATP Champions Tour.
Once known for his icy focus as a player, Borg was seemingly adrift as a young, wealthy retiree. He divorced twice and fathered a son with a woman he met while judging a beauty contest. Prior to his comeback, he was hospitalized for an accidental drug overdose and had his clothing label liquidated.
Gradually, the former tennis champion found stability off the court. He married for the third time in 2002 and became the father to a second son. He also enjoyed a resurgence of the Björn Borg clothing line, which developed into one of the most popular brands in Europe.
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