Tennis champ Mats Wilander gives back through 100 tennis camps

ELM GROVE -- Mats Wilander burst onto the professional tennis scene 30 years ago. From 1982 through 1988, the Swede won seven Grand Slam singles titles. The net result was a number one ranking in the world in 1988.

Wilander captured his fourth Grand Slam singles title at the age of 20 -- the youngest man in history to have achieved the feat.

Wilander was motivated and inspired by a native countryman.

"My hero was obivously Bjorn Borg and he sort of paved the path for some of us younger Swedes coming along, and there were certain pressures of being 'the next Bjorn Borg,' but once I won my first major at 17 years old, that pressure sort of went away," Wilander said.

As a tennis superstar, Wilander was served fame and fortune, yet he somehow managed to stay grounded and humble.

"I am the youngest of three brothers, so winning the French Open at 17 I still had to go and get the deck of cards and get my brothers their beers or their coffee or whatever they needed, so it was pretty easy to stay grounded," Wilander said.

Fans in America will never forget the duels between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. They long for the brilliance and power of Pete Sampras and the elegance of Chris Evert. Wilander offers perspective on why there are so few top-tier players from the United States today.

"We have to learn everything about the game that their is to know, because if you have a lot you can lose a lot. When you come from some of the countries where some of the players come from, they grow up with nothing. In some parts of Russia, they don't have that much and their parents don't have that much. They put everything they have into the kid's tennis, and the kid has his back up against the wall, and he better try pretty hard, because mom and dad are depending on it," Wilander said.

Wilander's competitive career is finished, but he is really just getting started when it comes to giving back to the game that has given him so much - the game he loves so much. Wilander-on-Wheels brought his tennis clinic to Western Racquet Club in Elm Grove.

"He's a great role model. He's one of the great champions of all time, having won seven Grand Slam tournaments, and the way he won them. Just a class act,"

"What you see is what you get. For me, honor, courage, committment from the Naval Academy is kinda my motto and the morals that I lived by and it makes it very easy for me to associate with him just because of who he is as a person. It's the real deal,"

Wilander won $8 million playing tennis and earned more in endorsements. With a wife and children in Idaho, why barnstorm around the country holding 100 tennis clinics?

"It's giving back to the sport that's given me my life -- given me the respect that I have not just for tennis players, but for people in general. I don't have a high school education or college education but I think I got one from just meeting people," Wilander said.

CLICK HERE for additional information on Wilander-on-Wheels.