This award is made periodically to a player who has shown throughout his or her playing career the outstanding standard of sportsmanship commensurate with the objects of the International Clubs. The relevant objective of the ICs is to “develop, encourage and maintain the highest standards of sportsmanship and understanding among players of all nations and among young players in particular”. Past winners are Stefan Edberg, Chris Evert, Todd Martin, Maria Bueno, Pat Rafter, Kim Clijsters and Gustavo Kuerten.
The selection process involves a panel of international tennis journalists who select a group of players who would meet these criteria. This list is then endorsed or added to by the 38 International Clubs around the world. Following this process Mats Wilander came out top and the IC is very proud to announce him as winner of the 2012 Award.
Some of the citations submitted were:
“Because of his great sportsmanship, Mats Wilander is an excellent representative for tennis.
He represents a combination of fair play and professionalism demanded by such a high level of the game and is someone who respects his opponent.”
“We associate Mats as the last winner of our Australian Championships on grass before it became the Australian Open at the new Tennis Centre in Melbourne Park on hard courts. Australians took a liking to Mats because they liked the way he played. He was always cool under pressure and with his sportsmanship and demeanour, both on and off court; he has brought credit to the game which is a fundamental to the ideals of the IC Family.”
“Mats Wilander (born 22 August 1964, in Vaxjo, Sweden) is a former world no.1 tennis player from Sweden. From 1982 through 1988, he won seven Grand Slam singles titles (three at the French Open, three at the Australian Open, and one at the US Open), and one Grand Slam men’s doubles title (at Wimbledon). Although he never won the singles title at Wimbledon, Wilander twice won the Australian Open when that tournament was still played on grass courts. Wilander won his fourth career Grand Slam singles title at the age of 20, the youngest man in history to have achieved that feat. In addition, he also won eight Championship Series titles (1983-88) the precursors to the current Masters 1000.”
“Mats has always been a gentleman on court known not for boisterous outbursts or tantrums but rather for being a fierce competitor and steady player that earned him the distinction of winning at least two Grand Slams on each of the traditional playing surfaces. A no.1 tennis player in the world, winner of 7 Grand Slams, valued contributor to 3 Davis Cup victories for the Swedes, and Hall of Fame inductee, Mats epitomises all that is great with our game.
A terrific competitor who was involved in many epic matches including his 6 hour plus marathon in the Davis Cup vs. John McEnroe, his determination and grit lead McEnroe to call Mats the “toughest player” he had ever played. Throughout his career, his affection for tennis was never more apparent than at his speech after his induction into the Hall of Fame when he noted “I love the game of tennis”.”
“In 1988 he ended as world no.1, when he won 3 Slams and reached the QF of Wimbledon. That 1988 season has been voted the 8th best men’s season in the Open era by Tennis.com when he beat an Australian (Pat Cash) in the Australian Open final, a Frenchman (Henri Leconte) in the French Open final and Ivan Lendl (3 time defending champion) for the US title. He won 33 titles worldwide which given the competition in his era with Lendl, Becker, Edberg and McEnroe, among others, is very good.
His individual playing record is exceptional, with 7 Grand Slam wins having exploded onto the scene at 17 in 1982 to fill the vacuum left by Bjorn Borg, by winning at Roland Garros.
Mats’ record in Davis Cup is also among the best, winning 3 titles and having overall 43-16 win/loss stats.”
“Wilander has and had the respect of his peers and was very popular on tour. Mats has and continues to offer his time and reputation to charitable events. He is President of GOAL USA and is joined by Pat Cash (President of GOAL UK).
Goal is an international humanitarian Third World agency. Mats’ association with this Irish based charity goes back to 1984 when he and Joachim Nystrom volunteered to play an exhibition match on grass the week before Wimbledon in order to raise funds for GOAL, in its quest to aid the poorest and most vulnerable mainly in Sudan, Ethiopia. Goal has 2,300 volunteers and also has aid programmes in Haiti and other African nations in need. The tennis exhibition continued in Dublin for many years and due to the popularity and presence of Wilander, players like McEnroe, Cash, Noah, Gilbert, Pernfors and Leconte all joined in the tennis festival in subsequent years. His efforts, though smaller and not as newsworthy it must be remembered coincided with Band Aid/Live Aid at the same time in 1984. Mats’ involvement has been ever present.
Mats Wilander is also involved in WOW (Wilander on Wheels) which help raise funds to find cures for Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare skin condition, as well as bringing a tennis fantasy camp to the youth in the USA.”
“Mats has been a great example of fairplay since he was a 17 year old junior player. He played his first semi final in Paris against Jose Luis Clerc in 1982, he had match point, the umpire gave him the point following a bad call and he refused to win like that- “I would never forgive myself if I did it”. He could well lose that match, which was still very close and open (final result was 7-5 6-2 1-6 7-5), but he won it. He has won seven Slams altogether, two more Roland Garros, three Australian Open and one US Open (and one doubles in Wimbledon with Nystrom), plus he was an outstanding Davis Cup player before becoming Davis Cup captain for Sweden. Later, a tennis coach and television broadcaster. Very charismatic and undoubtedly clever player, he has always been regarded as not only as a great player but a role model to many of his compatriots.”
The Award was presented at live@Wimbledon by ex-Chairman of the IC Council Barry Weatherill.
Please click here to view a video of the presentation