Sweden's Bjorn Borg won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon singles title yesterday and took another step toward recognition as the greatest tennis player in history.
Borg defeated American John McEnroe, now his most formidable opponent, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6, in one of the most exciting major tournament finals ever played.
McEnroe fought off seven match points in the fourth set and forced a fifth set by winning a tie breaker, 18-16.
The last hour of the scintillating match kept 15,000 spectators at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and a live television audience in three dozen countries spellbound.
Borg, 24, played an almost flawless final set, losing only three points on his serve, to become the first man since Britain's Lawrie Doherty in 1902-06 to win the singles title in five consecutive years at the oldest and most reveered of tennis tournaments.
No man had won five successive Wimbledon titles since the white-flanneleld days at the turn of the century when the champion sat out and waited for a challenger to battle through the draw to play him in the final. Doherty had to win only 10 matches to claim his five titles.
Borg now has won 35 consecutive singles matches at Wimbledon since American Arthur Ashe beat him in the quarterfinal round in 1975.
For the third consecutive year, Borg approaches the U.S. Open tournament in September with a chance to sweep the championships of France, Australia, Britain and the United States. He has never won the U.S. Open.