Wimbledon champion to put trophies up for sale

BJORN Borg, the Swedish tennis legend, is to sell all five of his Wimbledon singles trophies in a bid to raise more than £300,000 to shore up his crumbling finances.

Although he enjoyed a highly lucrative tennis career, Borg's decision to retire at just 26, combined with an unsuccessful career in fashion design, has forced him into selling the trophies as well as two of his famous wooden rackets.

The rackets, which he favoured over those constructed from more modern materials, were used in two of his Wimbledon finals, one from 1976 when he beat Illie Nastase, and the second from the classic encounter with John McEnroe in 1980.

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Each racket is expected to fetch up to 15,000 when auctioned at Bonhams on 21 June, the week before the start of the Wimbledon 2006 championships.

Borg said yesterday that he was sad to part with the trophies, which he won in consecutive tournaments from 1976 to 1980, but that it was necessary to provide financial security for his loved ones.

The player said: "It's obviously not easy to part with the trophies that symbolise all that tremendous effort, physical and emotional, to win Wimbledon on five occasions. But I need some long-term financial security for those close to me and now is the right time to for the trophies and rackets to pass to a tennis collector or a suitable institution."

No other player is believed to have sold a Wimbledon winner's trophy at auction and Jon Baddeley, head of collectors' sale at Bonhams, said yesterday: "The championship is the ultimate tennis competition and Bjorn Borg was arguably the supreme player of the 20th century."

Unfortunately, Borg has found success off the court harder to achieve. After he retired in 1982, the player, known for his ice-cold composure while on the court, went into a meltdown. He suffered a drug overdose, was rumoured to have attempted suicide and had a turbulent relationship with his then wife, Loredana Berte, an Italian singer.

He launched his own fashion label, titled Bjorn Borg, but its failure forced him to return to the professional tennis circuit, where his old-fashioned wooden rackets and older joints were no match for younger, stronger players. He failed to win a single tournament and re-retired in 1993.

The five trophies are being offered as one lot and have been given a pre-sale estimate of 200,000 to 300, 000.

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