Mats Wilander's Sportsmanship: A Legendary Moment at Roland Garros

Mats Wilander won the Roland Garros title on his debut in 1982

by Jovica Ilic
Mats Wilander's Sportsmanship: A Legendary Moment at Roland Garros

Mats Wilander competed at Roland Garros for the first time in 1982. The young Swede went all the way to secure the trophy, beating the players like Ivan Lendl, Vitas Gerulaitis and Guillermo Vilas to embrace tennis glory at 17.

Mats showed incredible sportsmanship in the semi-final against Jose-Luis Clerc on a match point, giving the point to his rival and refusing to win after the umpire's wrong decision! Wilander started his professional career at 15 in Basted 1980, securing a win and entering the special group.

A year later, the Swede reached the Wimbledon third round and played his first ATP final. The young gun reached the Rome semi-final in the spring of 1982 and prepared the ground for his Roland Garros debut. As we already said, Mats defeated challenging rivals to secure his first ATP title, achieving that on the notable scene and writing history books!

Mats Wilander showed true sportsmanship at Roland Garros 1982.

The youngster needed four hours and 47 minutes to topple Vilas 1-6, 7-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the title match, overcoming a slow start and overpowering the more experienced rival to lift the trophy.

While that encounter deserves a separate piece, we should focus on the semi-final clash. Wilander faced another Argentine Jose-Luis Clerc and beat him 7-5, 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 after almost four hours. The young gun showed incredible sportsmanship in one of the encounter's crucial moments!

Wilander led 5-1 in the fourth set and wasted a match point in the next game when his forehand landed just outside the baseline. Clerc leveled the score at 5-5, gaining a boost and looking good to send the match into a decider.

Mats held in game 11 to end the losing streak, and the victory was in his hands when Clerc's forehand was called out in the next one. The ball was good, but the umpire Jacques Dorfman already went down from his chair, as they did not check marks back then.

Wilander made a grand gesture, insisting the ball was in and not wanting to reach the final that way, forcing the official to replay the point. This time Clerc netted a backhand, losing the match but appreciating what the upcoming star just did, knowing only a few players would do the same in a situation like that.

Dorfman also said that he had never witnessed a gesture of sportsmanship like that, admitting he had to allow the repeat of the point after both players insisted on that.

Mats Wilander Roland Garros