Despite being one of tennis’ greatest players, I retired at the age of 26. Today, I own a fashion line that sells underwear popular with Messi.

BJORN BORG was not just one of the greatest players in tennis history, but also one of the most fashionable. So it’s no surprise that he made a successful transition into fashion after retiring at the age of 26.

Borg, 67, was born in Stockholm in 1956 and has redefined tennis with his elegance, smooth swings, and flowing long locks. He won 11 Grand Slam singles titles, with his six French Open victories trailing only the King of Clay Rafael Nadal’s record 14 in the Open Era. In addition, the Swede won five Wimbledon titles in a row, from 1976 to 1980. The final of those, against his great opponent John McEnroe, is widely regarded as the best tennis match of all time, especially the dramatic 18-16 fourth-set tie-break that the American won to force a fifth set.

Borg’s rivalry with McEnroe, as well as his popularity among the ladies due to his dashing good looks and charming demeanor, helped elevate tennis to a new level of global prominence. There were two radically different styles: leftie vs rightie, harsh vs polite, noisy vs quiet, chaotic vs serene. McEnroe won the US Open finals in 1980 and 1981, as well as Wimbledon in 1981, while Borg never won the trophy in New York despite making four final appearances. He also only played the Australian Open once, at the age of 17, in 1974, but chose not to travel Down Under before becoming obsessed with the Grand Slam race.

But, in January 1983, Borg startled tennis by announcing his retirement, and he retired the following year, still in his mid-20s. McEnroe encouraged him to continue, but the man who spent 109 weeks as the world’s top player and won the BBC’s Overseas Personality of the Year had already made his decision. Arthur Ashe, an American superstar, remarked of Borg, “I believe Bjorn could have won the US Open.” I believe he could have won the Grand Slam, but by the time he left, the historical challenge had little meaning.

 

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