Bonhams to sell Bjorn Borg’s Wimbledon trophies

Borg, one of the greatest sportsmen of all time and the only
person to win five consecutive Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship
titles, has instructed Bonhams to sell all of his Wimbledon-winning
trophies and two racquets from his 1976 and 1980 final matches.
No other tennis player has sold a Wimbledon-winning trophy at
auction before.

The five silver gilt trophies representing five Wimbledon Championship
wins during 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980 will be sold on
21 June at Bonhams’ salerooms in Knightsbridge. They will
be sold as one lot and are collectively expected to fetch £200,000-300,000.

In addition, two of the cool Swede’s Donnay racquets will
be sold. Borg used the first racquet to defeat Ilie Nastase
of Romania in the Wimbledon final of 1976. The second, he used
in the final of 1980 to defeat the hot-headed American great
John McEnroe – a match that is deemed by many to have been
the most riveting game of all time.

Having lost the opening set 6-1 to an all-out McEnroe assault,
Borg took the next two 7-5, 6-3 and held two Championship points
at 5-4 in the fourth. However, McEnroe averted disaster and
went on to level the match in Wimbledon’s most memorable
tiebreak, which he won 18-16, saving five more match points.

Borg’s renowned mental quality saw him through a testing
8-6 fifth set for his fifth straight Wimbledon title.

From this remarkable match of 1980, which produced the last
of Borg’s Wimbledon victories, and from the final game
of 1976, the racquets, signed by their owner, will be sold as
separate lots and are expected to fetch £10,000-15,000

When asked why he was selling the trophies and two of the racquets
used to win what were arguably the world’s most important
tennis tournaments, Bjorn Borg responded: “Obviously it
is not easy to part with the trophies that symbolise all the
tremendous effort, both physically and emotionally that it took
to win Wimbledon on five occasions. However, I do need to have
some long-term financial security for those close to me and
now believe that the time is right for the trophies and racquets
to pass to either a tennis collector or a suitable institution
where they can be appreciated by a wider number of people.

“Even though the symbols of my victories are being sold,
what I will always retain is the knowledge that for such a long
period I was the supreme world tennis champion.”

Bonhams’ Group Head, Collectors’ Sales, Jon Baddeley
added: “The Wimbledon Championship is the ultimate tennis
competition. Bjorn Borg was arguably the supreme tennis player
of the 20th century. This unique collection of trophies is without
doubt the most important group of tennis memorabilia ever to
have been offered at auction. I am delighted that Bonhams has
been chosen to sell such a sporting icon.”

“The Iceman” Cometh

Born on 6 June 1956, Bjorn Borg’s destiny was shaped early
when his father, Rune, one of Sweden’s leading table tennis
players, won the city championships and was given a selection
of sports goods to choose from as a prize. Apparently, he was
about to pick a fishing rod, but asked Bjorn what he wanted.
He chose the tennis racquet, but at age nine found it too heavy
for him. Already an accomplished ice hockey player, the young
Borg decided to adopt the same grip he used on his hockey stick
– the two-handed backhand grip, for which he became famous.

In 1972, aged just 15, the blonde Swede Bjorn Borg, later known
as “the Iceman”, made his professional tennis debut
at the Davis Cup. Defeating the then New Zealand champion Onny
Parun in just five sets, he swept away the title from beneath
Parun’s nose and first attracted the attention of worldwide
tennis fans and critics. Aged 19, he took to the courts of Wimbledon,
where time and again he proved his metal. During the five years
that Borg won Wimbledon, he also took the title for three years
at the French Open.

Borg’s best surface was clay, on which he developed top
spin shots – still used by today’s great tennis players.

He was the first sex symbol of the tennis circuit, which created
the then unusual spectacle of “Borg mania”. Although
today such adoration of tennis stars by teenage girls is commonplace,
back in the late 1970s it was usually reserved for pop idols
and football super heroes.

After achieving 11 Grand Slam singles (six French, five Wimbledon)
in the space of eight years, the coolest man on court quit the
sport at 26, mentally drained and physically exhausted by the
extraordinary demands of unrelenting tennis circuits.

It is unlikely that the world of tennis will ever see his like
again in terms of an athlete driven by single-mindedness to
such towering success.

Visit the WCN
Sports Collectibles
information pages and message board.

For more details visit the Bonhams
web site.

Leave a Reply