That was almost thirty years ago.
Precisely Tuesday, April 23, 1991. Long hair, terry cloth headband, white outfit and wooden Donnay rackets in his bag, Björn Borg, 34, enters the Central of the Monte-Carlo tournament.
A throw of the ball from his home in Monaco, the Swedish legend is trying an improbable comeback on the courts after eight years of retirement.
The world has its eyes riveted on the Rock where the six-time winner of Roland-Garros, in charge of the draw with Alain Delon, inherited the Spanish landlord Jordi Arrese, 52nd in the world, for his return among the mortals.
The beard badly cut in less, the quickdraw recalls the ex-rock star of the circuit, whose rivalry with John McEnroe marked the history of tennis long before the duo Federer-Nadal.
Throwback to 1991 ...
And the surprising return of one of the clay-court greats 🙌 # TBT #RolexMCMasters pic.twitter.com/BYFEdPt0Vw
- Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 12, 2018
It is also against the American that his first tennis life unofficially ended.
If the announcement dates from January 23, 1983, the click took place in the summer of 1981, after his indigestible defeat against Big Mac in the final of the US Open.
“After McEnroe's victory, I headed straight for the house I owned at the time on Long Island.
I jumped into the pool like a vacationer, he would later relate.
There, while lounging, I realized that the motivation was no longer there.
That day, at the age of 25, I decided to quit.
Decision that I have never regretted.
I had been number 1, becoming number 2 did not interest me.
His fortune is melting, debts are piling up
Accustomed to the headlines of the sports press, the student of Lennart Bergelin gradually slips into the people pages (separation with his first wife Mariana Simionescu) and the headlines.
The "Fifth Member of Abba" discovers that setbacks can hurt business a lot.
Its own line of clothing, as well as that of its supplier, is off to a strong start.
But his associates, unscrupulous friends, cheerfully tamper with the bulletin board to drive the company into bankruptcy within a few years.
Already scattered in the evenings or in the game, his fortune (which has nothing to do with those of the top names of the 21st century) is melting like the ice of the Iceborg in the sun.
The debts accumulate and the tax authorities are quick to react.
“I trusted people too much.
I am a nice guy, I am not suspicious because I believe that people are honest, that they really mean what they say, he confided to us in 2007 when we had gone to meet him in Stockholm.
How many times in my life have I been taken for a c… by those who call themselves my friends?
But they were only there for the money or the fame.
When you realize it, the disillusionment is terrible.
I made a lot of mistakes, but I don't regret a thing.
"It was madness, I knew it"
He is even credited with a suicide attempt in 1989 in Milan alongside the sulphurous singer of Italian variety Loredana Berté, but he has always denied it.
Suffice to say that this spring afternoon on the Côte d'Azur goes beyond the simple framework of a game of tennis.
Whatever the reason.
“For me it's nothing this thing, loose at the time Yannick Noah, captain of the French Davis Cup team.
This pseudo-return is mounted like a bellows, totally commercial.
The child of Södertälje, who learned to play against the door of his garage, however refused any lucrative exhibition until then.
And it is indeed passion that seems to guide his daring or unconscious bet.
"I just wanted to play tennis again, he remembered in the Guardian in 2007. I lived in Monte-Carlo, I did not train, I did not play exhibitions, I just showed up, in somehow.
It was madness, I knew that.
I knew I wasn't playing well.
A year or two later, Jimmy Connors started the senior circuit.
If it had existed in 1991, that's what I would have done instead, but suddenly, I went to Monte-Carlo.
"It's as if you wanted to race in Formula 1 with Fangio's car"
In front of packed stands, the love of the game looks more like cowardly love.
Especially with very little training and poor physical condition.
Despite the unconditional support of nostalgic fans, Borg does not weigh heavily against an honest clay specialist.
Sad spectacle of short duration.
“I said: Björn, you are able to come back but, please, not with your old Donnay racket, will slip the Italian champion Adriano Panatta.
It's as if you wanted to race in Formula 1 with Fangio's car.
He didn't listen to me.
"His coach will compare it to a departure to war in Iraq with a simple rifle ..." It's difficult to replay eight years later, analyzes the former world No. 1 at a press conference after this wet firecracker.
It was not a difficult game.
But my lack of a match explains why I missed a lot of easy points.
It will take a while before I feel 100%.
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Even if he spoils his image and the beautiful pages of souvenir books, the Scandinavian wants to resist. He played eight tournaments in 1992 without winning a single set. Two more defeats the following year before landing in Moscow in the fall for the Kremlin Cup. The 1148th player in the world faces Russian left-hander Volkov, registration number 17. Despite a match point in the decisive game of the last set, Borg lost 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) and left the circuit for good on November 9, 1993. Without really understanding why there had entered again ...