I might have played more if I had the same security as Federer and Nadal: Borg Bjorn

Bjorn Borg has never seemed more carefree than he has in the last few months. Watching him captain Team Europe in the Laver Cup, travel the world, coach on-court, and do interviews is a pleasant surprise for a man who was so sternly self-controlled at the height of his career in the 1970s—legend has it that he would not shave for the two full weeks during Wimbledon.

At The Leela Palace here on Tuesday, Borg was looking as carefree and carefree as ever, dressed in casual cotton shorts and a navy blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

Accompanied by his 50-year friend and master speaker Vijay Amritraj, Borg reflected on his playing days, his intense rivalry with John McEnroe, and his decision to retire from the game at the age of 26.

“I was a very famous person back then,” Borg remarked. “I always saw hundreds of people everywhere I went, including restaurants and hotels. You’ll adore that when your career is just getting started. However, you would want a private life after a few years. That’s the reason I moved aside. I might have played for longer if I had had more security, similar to that of [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal.

Amritraj stated that Borg was “as popular as the Beatles and more popular than ABBA,” whereas McEnroe’s struggle was with the outside world. Since Borg was the American standard, its sudden disappearance put McEnroe out of position.

“We played an exhibition in Tokyo after I stepped away,” Borg remembered. McEnroe told me, “You just have to keep playing.” Why not, I asked myself. He answered, “Because I need you there.” He liked to push me all the time. For him, the most important thing was that he was having fun.

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