100 Years of Wimbledon Glory: Bjorn Borg's Unforgettable Battle against Jimmy Connors

Bjorn Borg defended his Wimbledon title on the event's 100th anniversary in 1977

by Jovica Ilic
100 Years of Wimbledon Glory: Bjorn Borg's Unforgettable Battle against Jimmy Connors

Wimbledon celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1977, with Bjorn Borg defending his title in a thrilling final against Jimmy Connors! Ever since his first steps on the tennis court, Borg was the one to keep an eye on. Bjorn had a breakthrough season at 18 in 1974, winning Rome and Roland Garros, followed by another title in Paris in 1975 and at Wimbledon in 1976, just after turning 20.

A year later, Bjorn missed Roland Garros and all the action between Dallas in April and Wimbledon. The Swede competed for the Cleveland Nets in World TeamTennis that spring, earning much more than at Roland Garros and even Wimbledon, where he grabbed only $25,500!

Things were not easy for the Swede during those two weeks at The All England Club in 1977, trailing two sets to love against Mark Edmondson in the second round and overpowering Vitas Gerulaitis in a memorable semi-final clash.

Bjorn prevailed and arranged the title match versus Jimmy Connors on July 2. The Swede toppled the American 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in a grueling three hours and 14 minutes for his 25th ATP title and fourth Major at 21! It was a great final, precisely a century after the first way back in 1877, with Borg describing the triumph as the "happiest one of his career." The encounter could have been completed much earlier, with two break chances for Bjorn in the decider's fifth game that could have sent him 5-0 up.

However, Jimmy repelled them and performed a comeback to level the score at 4-4 before Borg claimed the last two games to seal the deal and defend the title. Thus, he joined Rod Laver and John Newcombe as the third defending Wimbledon champion in the Open era.

Connors survived a tight third game of the opening set and broke at love at 4-3 after Borg's double fault. Jimmy closed the set with a volley winner at the net in the next game for 6-3. Borg fended off break chances at 1-1 in set number two.

He closed the game with an ace to gain momentum, leading him toward his first break at 3-2 when Connors sent a forehand long. Serving to stay in the set two games later, Jimmy netted a backhand to suffer another break and hand it to his rival, who was on a roll now.

Bjorn Borg took down Jimmy Connors in five sets in the 1977 Wimbledon final.

The Swede earned a break in the third set's second game when Connors sent an easy backhand into the net. A service winner pushed Borg 3-0 up before his advantage became even greater following another error from the American in game four.

Jimmy pulled one break back a few minutes later. However, his groundstrokes were nowhere near where he wanted them to be, getting broken again to let Borg serve for the set at 5-1. The Swede held at 15 with an ace to take two sets to one lead, looking good to seal the deal in the following one.

Connors was not to be denied, though, serving better in set number four and breaking Borg for a 4-2 advantage after the Swede's weak smash. Bjorn broke back in the next game thanks to Jimmy's loose forehand. He had chances on the return in game nine before his rival landed a backhand winner to bring it home and stay in front.

Serving to stay in the set at 5-6, Bjorn suffered a break at love after Connors' beautiful lob winner, and the American forced a decider in his quest for the first Wimbledon title in three years. As always in big moments, Borg started all over in the final set.

He earned a break in the opening game with a backhand down the line winner and confirmed the lead with a forehand winner in the next one. Wasting game points, Jimmy got broken again in game three, and Bjorn found himself 4-0 up after an ace, marching toward the finish line and controlling the scoreboard.

Facing defeat, Jimmy fended off a couple of break chances in game five and set the comeback trail, pulling one break back to stay alive. The American held in the next game to reduce the deficit to 4-3, and a volley winner in game eight gained the second break for him to level the score at 4-4 and take the thunder away from the Swede.

His efforts were in vain after sending a backhand long in game nine to lose serve and push Bjorn in front. The Swede held at love a few minutes later to take the set 6-4 and complete the triumph in one of the most memorable Wimbledon finals that took everything from both players.

Wimbledon Bjorn Borg Jimmy Connors