Leo Borg’s mother Patricia had secretly hoped that her son would become anything but a tennis player. She knew the pressure her son would have to go through since he is the great Bjorn Borg’s son. The Swedish player has won 11 Grand Slam titles, including five consecutive Wimbledon titles. The feat has been matched by only Roger Federer.
How would Leo handle it, Patricia thought, according to The New York Times.
However, Leo understood the talent he possessed and decided to sit his mother down for an important chat at the age of 10. He uttered the words his mother didn’t want to hear – “I want to be a tennis player”.
"“And so I was crying. We tried to get him into another sport, just so he wouldn’t be compared with his father. It would be so much easier. I was scared.”" - Patricia Borg told The New York Times
Leo is athletically gifted and coaches from a football club had told Patricia that Leo was one of the best talents they had scouted in sometime.
Bjorn and Patricia were concerned about the path their son had chosen, but eventually they decided to support Leo, according to The New York Times.
At the age of 15, Leo is among Sweden’s best young players. He practices before and after school. He is set to complete his compulsory education next spring, after which he will devote his entire time to tennis and pursue his dream of becoming a professional player.
"“He’s always going to be reminded of me, and that’s kind of a burden for him. So I don’t put pressure on him, and I try to make sure that the life he lives doesn’t give him any pressure. That’s our task. That’s our way of helping him. Then, the only person who can put pressure on him is himself.”" - Bjorn Borg told The New York Times
Leo received a prize of 100,000 Swedish krona (around $11,000) on the court of the Royal Tennis Club at the Stockholm Open for being the best U-16 player in 2018. He won two of the four biggest junior tournaments in Sweden and reached the finals in each of them, according to The New York Times.
However, the Royal Tennis Club had photographs and illustrations of Bjorn Borg everywhere and to make matters worse, Leo had to read his family’s name on all the staff members’ clothes since the tournament was sponsored by Borg’s clothing line.
If Leo’s father is not present physically, Bjorn Borg is always lurking around.
"“I understand it. It’s not bothering me so much. I’ve always known who is my dad.”" - Leo Borg told The New York Times
Leo’s first experience with tennis was striking a ball against a wall in his paternal grandmother’s basement. Bjorn did the same against his mother’s garage door.
When Leo was asked whether he has seen any of Bjorn’s matches, he said:
"“No. Not a single match.”" - Leo Borg told The New York Times
Borg's Coaching Fail
Leo and Bjorn played tennis together when the former was younger but later their bond on the tennis court fizzled out. Patricia narrated a story when Bjorn tried giving Leo some advice.
"“You told him, like, ‘Go more forward.’ And Leo was like: ‘Ugh! You don’t know anything about tennis!’ And Bjorn said, ‘Okay, I will never say anything about tennis’.”" - Patricia Borg told The New York Times
Rickard Billing has coached Leo for the last five years. The 46-year-old who is a big Bjorn Borg fan said that he still has a poster of the tennis great at home, according to The New York Times.
When Borg met Billing for the first time, he said, “I’m a player and a parent. The coaching is your business.”
Leo Plays Bjorn
An online advertisement looking for young actors in Stockholm who could play tennis caught Leo and his mother’s eye. Leo was 12 at that time. Later, they understood that the child had to play Bjorn’s part in the film Borg vs McEnroe.
In the beginning, Bjorn Borg was against Leo playing his role in a movie. The director Janus Metz was hesitant too. However, Metz was convinced when he saw the familiarity of the father and son’s looks.
"“(The boys eyes showed) that shy vulnerability and sort of hellbent willpower that’s so special to Bjorn.”" - Janus Metz told The New York Times
Leo hit a ball on the wall of a garage door and threw a tantrum on the court as his father in the movie.
"“It was so real. I could get lost in his face and his eyes from behind the camera, take after take, because it would just spill out of him.”" - Janus Metz told The New York Times
Leo Loses Match on Purpose
During a junior tournament in France last year, a group of photographers realised that Leo is Bjorn Borg’s son. At that time, there were adults who wanted to take selfies and finally Patricia and Leo had to escape from a group who were following them, according to The New York Times.
Leo couldn’t handle the situation and lost his next match on purpose. He wanted to return home.
"“He was not prepared for that. I felt bad because he felt terrible.”" - Bjorn Borg told The New York Times
Leo Borg has chosen a tough path of following his father’s footsteps. He will be compared with the legend every step of the way. But, he has to believe in himself and his parents are ready to back him.
Will Leo Borg be the next tennis legend?
(With inputs from The New York Times.)
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