Stefan Edberg (or Iceberg as he was called in jest) along with Boris Becker, dominated Wimbledon in the latter part of the 1980s. The diffident Swede’s style was made for the lawns of the All England Club, his deportment complementing the ambience of the sport’s traditional theatre, as impressively as his strokes.
The 6’2″ right hander was one of the major proponents of the serve-and-volley, arguable the greatest of all time. He reached 11 Grand Slam singles finals, winning six, twice claiming victory at Wimbledon, The Australian and US Opens. In his ATP World Tour profile, Bud Collins describes him as a stylistic misfit among the Swedish legion that rose in Björn Borg’s sneaker steps and image, Stefan Edberg was an extraordinarily graceful attacker.”
Along with John McEnroe, they are the only players to reach World No1 in both singles and doubles. Stefan also won all four Junior Grand Slam titles in 1983 – the only person to do so.
The French Open evaded him, but only just! He reached the final in 1989, losing in a close five setter to Michael Chang. He also won three Grand Slam men’s doubles titles.
Unfortunately, knee surgery sidelined him at this years Statoil Master’s Tennis Tournament on the ATP Champions Tour. But, luckily for me, he did turn up yesterday to watch and even more luckily, I had my sketch of him with me and he was happy to sign.
Mats Wilander is one of the main reasons I began to follow tennis in the 1980s. In fact it was three Swedes – Mats, Stefan Edberg and the legendary Björn Borg that galvanised my attraction for the sport. Mats was a great fighter. He didn’t possess big weapons, but would grind out victories, plus he was an all round good guy.
He won his 4th Grand Slam title at the age of 20 – the youngest in history to achieve that feat and is one of only 5 men (Connors, Agassi, Nadal and Federer) to have won Grand Slam singles titles on grass, hard and clay courts. (Two of his Australian victories were when the tournament was still played on grass). He did collect a Wimbledon title in 1986, partnering Joakim Nyström in the men’s doubles.
1988 was a defining year. He won three out of the four Slams, losing to Miloslav Mecir in the Wimbledon quarter, finishing the year ranked number one. He was booked on Pan Am Flight 103 in December – had he boarded he would have died ranked number one. The plane exploded over Lockerbie from a terrorist bomb, killing all on board. And I would not have been able to meet him last night at London’s Royal Albert Hall after his match at the Statoil Masters’ Tournament. He had to wait for his car, so I was lucky enough to have a brief chat while he signed this sketch and my World Number One’s book.
John McEnroe is a legend, to put it mildly. Perhaps the most iconic player in the history of tennis, and only one of a handful from his generation to have transcended the sport.
Famous for his temper as for his precocious talent, he is without doubt one of tennis’ all time greats with 17 Grand Slam titles – including 7 Singles (3 Wimbledons and 4 US Opens).
He became the top ranked singles player in the world on March 3, 1980 and spent a total of 170 weeks at number one between 1980 and 1985.
John has also been called “the greatest doubles player of all time,” forming a powerful partnership with Peter Fleming. They won 57 men’s doubles titles including four at Wimbledon and three at the US Open.
On the few occasions I have met John he has been extremely pleasant and has happily signed. After beating Wayne Ferreira in his opening game at the Statoil Masters at the Royal Albert Hall – a title he has won on four previous occasions – he signed and dedicated my sketch.
Actor, musician, writer and theatre director Simon Callow excels in every facet.
Apparently he became an actor after sending a fan letter to Sir Laurence Olivier, the then artistic director of the National Theatre. A response suggested he join the box office staff and realised acting was for him after watching actors rehearse.
He signed my sketch at the Trafalgar Studios in London in July 2011 before a performance of his one man play Being Shakespeare. It was revived at the same theatre in March 2012, prior to a run in New York and Chicago.
Jane Horrocks is probably best known as ‘Bubble’ in the TV series Absolutely Fabulous and her distinctive voice with its strong Lancashire accents. She is also an acclaimed stage actress. While appearing in Road, directed by Jim Cartwright, she would warm up by doing singing impressions of Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey and Ethel Merman.
Impressed by her mimicry, he wrote The Rise and Fall of Little Voice for her. She was nominated for an Olivier Award in 1992 for her performance, directed by then boyfriend Sam Mendes. She reprised the role for the 1998 screen adaption Little Voice, which also earned her nominations for a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award.
Jane kindly signed by sketch at the Young Vic stage door, where she was starring in the title role in Annie Get Your Gun in December 2009.
One of my boyhood TV heroes was Napoleon Solo in the classic 60s spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. So it was great to eventually meet Robert Vaughn… albeit 40 something years later in London this weekend.
I am also a big fan of Hustle, in which Robert plays the veteran grifter Albert Stroller. He’s been one of the biggest stars in the business for the past 50 years. Robert was gunman Lee in the Magnificent Seven (1960) and is now the only surviving member of the title cast. He has been nominated for the Oscar (The Young Philadelphians), a BAFTA (Bullitt) and four Golden Globes. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of George Washington in 1978. He also has a PhD in Communication from the University of Southern California – an actor and an academic.
Robert is currently applying his intellect on the West End stage at the Garrick Theatre in Reginald Rose’s jury drama Twelve Angry Men, playing the wise old juror #9, identified late in the play as ‘McCardle’. He signed my sketch of his character going in for Saturday’s matinee performance.
Kyle is an American actor, living in London having graduated from RADA in 2008. His breakthrough year was in 2011 when he won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Newcomer for stellar performances in The Glass Menagerie and The Government Inspector, both at the Young Vic and The Faith Machine at the Royal Court.
In 2012 he performed the role of Edmund in Eugene O’Neill’s harrowing autobiographical play A Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Apollo Theatre with David Suchet and Laurie Metcalf. The sketch is based on that character and he signed it for me at the theatre. Kyle is currently appearing in Marlowe’s Edward II at the National.