Tennis legend Bjorn Borg is in India for the first time in several years to support his teen son Leo Borg, who will compete at the ATP Challenger events in Chennai and Bengaluru this month. The 11-time Grand Slam winner was welcomed in Chennai this week by good friend and TNTA president, Vijay Amritraj. Amritraj hosted a press conference on Sunday, where the two former on-court rivals discussed their intense battles at the Grand Slams, and the future of Swedish and Indian tennis, amongst other things.
Borg: “I’m very happy to be back, to get an invitation from Vijay who is a very good friend of mine. We’ve spent many years together, on and off the court. I am happy to be back in Chennai, to spend time with Vijay, see the city once again, and see my son play. It’s nice to be part of Chennai tennis once again and to have the tournament come back after four years. It’s great for Indian tennis.”
“Maybe Indian tennis and Swedish tennis are struggling a little bit when it comes to having really top tennis players. Vijay is doing a great job promoting tennis in India, and I am trying to help tennis back in Sweden. I think we are in the right direction. We live for tennis, it’s been a part of our lives, and before we die it’s going to be a very important issue for both of us. Hopefully, in the future, both countries will produce some top players. It’s a long way to go.”
Q) Can you talk about your experience as captain of Team Europe at the Laver Cup, and how do you think a similar tournament would have spanned out during your time as a pro?
I am very proud to be captain of Team Europe and to be around today’s generation of players, it’s been a great experience. To spend a week every year around the best players it’s unbelievable. I wish we had something similar; with Jimmy [Connors], [John] McEnroe, Vijay, and other players too. But we didn’t have the possibilities, I’m a little sad about that. It would have been a huge thing, people would have loved it.
Q) Can you talk about your emotions about returning to the sport as a mentor to your son and reliving the nerves of competitive tennis from the stands?
He has his team, my wife, and I, we get to see him once in a while because he doesn’t want to see us all the time (laughs). It’s easier to play yourself but it’s worse to watch your son or daughter from the stands. Because you have no control when you’re watching from the stands. But I’m happy to see him so motivated, he wants to become a very good player, and he’s working really hard. I tell him to ask me if he wants any advice when it comes to tennis, but he will say ‘no I have nothing to ask you’. He is 19 years old, so he’s very hungry.
Q) What was the thinking behind giving a wildcard to Leo Borg?
Amritraj: Firstly I think to encourage youngsters, like Rafael Nadal way back when he first came to Chennai on a wildcard. It’s exactly like the way Alcaraz is today, so we’ve seen a lot of these youngsters come into the Chennai Open in the past. The issue here is that the guys who’ve gotten wildcards, have done really well abroad, and made the top 20 in the world. So yes, we have given wildcards to foreigners in the past. Say Karen Khachanov, see where he is today! We also need to think away from that and be inspired by the fact that if those guys can do it, we can do it too. That’s really the bottom line. Leo’s circling that category. So it made complete sense.