Stories You Should Know: Mats Wilander

Mats Wilander entered the international tennis picture as his fellow Swede, Bjorn Borg retired in 1981 after his win at the French Open. Though Wilander began tennis at a much older age than most star tennis champions he would be the youngest player to win the French Open as a 17-year-old (That mark would later be lowered by Boris Becker and Michael Chang). But a Swede would again dominate the clay courts with Wilander’s win in 1982. This would launch him into the Majors hunts, making it to the Finals in the Australian Open in 1893, 1984 and 1985.

But the year 1988 would be one of the greatest years of any male tennis player. He would win the Australian Open (at that time played on grass), the French Open and the U.S. Open, holding Major Titles in all three surfaces. He would end that magical year as #1 in the World. But he would not be able to hold the peak for long. By 1991 he had dropped to #157 in the World and was off the tour in 1993.

Through Wilander’s ferocious career he toppled such greats as Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe. A thoroughly forgotten player but a poster child for the difficulties of staying on top with the World’s #1 spot.

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