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Sunday, 11 June, 2000, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Bring on the champions
McEnroe and Borg
Old foes McEnroe and Borg will meet up once again
Almost two decades have passed since Bjorn Borg last set foot inside the All England Club.

But on 1 July 2000, the five-time Wimbledon Singles champion will once again take centre stage on Centre Court.

The Swedish tennis legend is one of 67 past and present winners and finalists who have been invited to take part in Wimbledon's Champions' Parade to commemorate the Millennium on the middle Saturday (1 July) of this year's event.

Borg will also line up alongside current champions Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport, recent retirees Boris Becker and Steffi Graf and a host of SW19 heroes from the past four decades including Chris Evert, Evonne Cawley, Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase.

Aura

What sets Borg apart from all the other retirees, however, is the aura surrounding the Swede's first appearance at Wimbledon since his retirement.

While many of his peers return to play in the veterans competition, Borg has always stayed away.

He spent 11 years on the men's tour and was still one of the world's top players when he shocked the world by deciding to call it a day in 1983 at the age of just 27.

In his brief professional career he had introduced a new audience to tennis and become an icon in his own right.

He was also exceptional on clay. At the age of 17, Borg won the 1974 French Open - his first Grand Slam Singles trophy - and repeated the triumph in 1975, 78, 79, 80 and 81.

Although he never won the US Open, despite being a finalist four times, and made only one trip to the Australian Open, Borg was the world number one for 106 weeks between August 1977 and July 1981.

Glorious groundstrokes

But he is not remembered purely for his glorious ground strokes, two-handed backhand or athleticism. Borg made tennis fashionable in the 1970s.


Stefan Edberg
Stefan Edberg was inspired to play tennis by compatriot Borg's success

His success sparked a Swedish tennis boom.

Stefan Edberg won the Wimbledon Singles title in 1988 and 1990, while Mats Wilander and Anders Jarryd were Doubles winners around the same time.

Borg also inspired the present generation of Swedish pros including Thomas Enqvist, Jonas Bjorkman, and Magnus Norman.

Yet only Borg attracted screaming teenage girls to the courts, giving him a status akin to a pop-star. No other player has ever been able to pull off the long hair and headband-look as Borg could.

He celebrated victory and accepted acclaim with such modesty that everyone wanted him to keep on winning.

Calmness under pressure

His apparent calmness under pressure, particularly against his antitheses McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, injected a touch of glamour into the sport.

At 44, he may not have the same edge on court as he used to have, but he continues to draw the crowds to the tournaments, where he has renewed his rivalry with McEnroe and Connors.

But while Borg and McEnroe are certain to attend the Parade at Wimbledon, Connors may be one notable absence.

The 1974 and 1982 Singles winner is the only surviving champion from the last 30 years who has not confirmed his participation.

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See also:

10 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
The traditions of Wimbledon
09 Jun 00 | Photo Galleries
The last 10 men to win the Championships
09 Jun 00 | Photo Galleries
The last ten ladies' Wimbledon champions
09 Jun 00 | Photo Galleries
Memorable characters from SW19 in the 1980s
10 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
The umpire strikes back
10 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
The quest for Wimbledon tickets
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