When most people think of former tennis star Stefan Edberg, they think of his on-court accomplishments, which include six Grand Slam titles, four Davis Cup titles for his native country of Sweden, being the world’s number-one ranked player for a total of 72 weeks, all capped off by his induction into the tennis hall of fame in 2004.
While his life is not consumed by tennis these days, he is still known to break out his racquet on occasion and unleash that vicious one-handed backhand and beautiful serve-and-volley game tennis fans look back on fondly. Those on Grand Cayman who would like to witness Edberg’s beautiful version of tennis firsthand are in luck, as he will compete against Pat Cash in the main event of the annual Legends at Camana Bay, taking place Feb. 9 on the Festival Green.
Speaking during a telephone interview from his home in Sweden, Edberg explained why he doesn’t play much competitive tennis anymore, why he has chosen to come back and play in Grand Cayman, and how he has transitioned from a life on the court to a life in the finance world.
After your career it’s quite a transition, but I always had an interest in how my money was invested. Stefan Edberg
“Tennis is not a major part of my life nowadays,” he said. “I’ve kept playing exhibitions like I’m playing in Grand Cayman, but it’s not something I do very often. It has to be a special occasion, maybe once a year. When I’m at home, though, I still play two or three times a week to keep my fitness up. I also have my foundation for young players in Sweden to try and give something back to the game. Tennis will always be part of my life. It’s a lot less nowadays, but I still love to be on the court.”
BEING A TOURIST
Edberg, who has been to Grand Cayman for the Legends event twice before, said warm weather and great hospitality are major factors in why he is returning again.
“I’ve been to Cayman a couple of times before,” he said. “I’ve been treated very well when I’ve visited and weather wise it’s a great time of the year to leave Sweden.” He said he really loves Seven Mile Beach.
“I’ll be here with my family for 10 days and hope to spend most of the time on the beach, as well as re-visit Stingray City and the Turtle Farm, which is quite an experience,” he said. “I haven’t been to Hell yet, so maybe this time. There’s always something to do but mainly I’m looking forward to spending time on the beach.”
Like most retired athletes, Edberg has had to develop other interests to keep himself busy, and for him, his interests have turned to the world of finance and real estate.
“After your career it’s quite a transition, but I always had an interest in how my money was invested, so that’s how I got into it,” he said. “I take great interest in investments and I have enjoyed following the markets for the past two decades. In my hometown in Sweden, I’ve bought some commercial and residential real estate, so that takes up my time as well. Finance, real estate and tennis keep me pretty busy.”
Despite not playing as much anymore, Edberg still had a lot to say on the state of tennis today, particularly the dominance of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“For over a decade they’ve cleaned up every Slam and Masters Series,” he said. “I think it’s very unlikely we’ll see such domination again. The more you think about it the more you realise how special these three players are, with over 40 Grand Slams combined.”
Of course Edberg has a special bond with Federer, having spent 2014 and 2015 as his coach and mentor, and it’s a time he looks back on fondly.
“It was special spending time with Roger for two years,” he said. “He’s probably the greatest player of all time. His popularity, his achievements … he is an extraordinary person on and off the court. Roger is always wanting to become better. I don’t think he’s quite finished. He always wants to improve. He loves the game. It was amazing last year with him winning two Slams. You could write hundreds of pages on his achievements.”
Now that he is retired, Edberg can reflect on his own career and some of his biggest moments on the court.
“Eventually you start to look back,” he said. “When you’re playing, you don’t think about it, but looking back at my tennis career, I’m proud of my achievements.”
In particular, he fondly recalls winning a big junior tournament at the age of 11 as an unseeded player in front more than 11,000 people; of becoming the world’s number one men’s player for the first time in 1990; of winning Wimbledon for the first time in 1988; and winning the U.S. Open for the first of two times in 1991.
“I beat Jim Courier and that was probably the best tennis match I played in my career,” he said of that U.S. Open victory.
Tickets to the Legends at Camana Bay are available at www.legendscayman.com.