The All England Lawn Tennis Club announced yesterday a compromise proposal that would allow Bjorn Borg to play at Wimbledon without qualifying for the game's most prestigious tournament.
The club said it would allow Borg to play in the main tournament if he agrees to play a total of 10 Grand Prix events between April 1, 1982, and March 31, 1983.
Borg, who recently took a five-month sabbatical from tennis, has refused to honor the Men's International Professional Tennis Council (MIPTC) rule requiring players to participate in a minimum of 10 Grand Prix events a year, excluding Wimbledon, the U.S. and French opens.
He has said he would play only seven, in which case, the council has ruled, Borg would have to qualify for every tournament he enters, including Wimbledon.
Borg, a five-time Wimbledon champion, was not available to comment yesterday on the compromise proposal made by the governing body for Wimbledon. Sir Brian Burnett, chairman of the club, said the proposal was made to Borg last week in Monte Carlo, but that the Swede has so far refused to accept it.
The plan, which has been approved by the MIPTC, would save face for Borg, who petitioned the MIPTC in January to excuse him from its quota of Grand Prix events.
Borg said he had taken time off to rest and get away from the pressures of the tennis circuit. Upon his return, he said he wanted to play only in selected events, and deserves special treatment because he has won at Wimbledon so often.
Borg has said he would not enter either Wimbledon or the French Open, which he has won six times, if he is forced to play a qualifying round.
If Borg does reverse his position and decide to qualify for his chosen events, he will end up playing much more tennis than he had originally intended. Each qualification round can take as long as a week.
"We have spent incredible amounts of time talking about it (the Borg situation)," said Marshall Happer, administrator of the MIPTC. "For Borg not to comply with the bargain is absurd. Tennis has made him a 25-year-old multimillionaire; he is surely the greatest player in the world. But for him to demand special privileges is ridiculous. If there was not sufficient time in nine months, or now, a full year, for him to play 10 tournaments, it would be different."
Borg returned to the tennis circuit last week, playing through the qualifying round of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. This weekend he will play an exhibition in Japan against John McEnroe, before flying to Las Vegas for another event next week.
"He has time for exhibitions which pay huge dollars," said Happer. "He's already played a lot of those. I realize he's sincerely upset (by the turn of events) but I have a problem following his logic. How is it fair to other players on the circuit to give Bjorn Borg special consideration?"
In addition to Borg's boycott, Wimbledon officials face the prospect of a tournament without Ivan Lendl, Eliot Teltscher or Gene Mayer, all of whom have said they may not enter.
So far, Borg has not budged. According to Burnett's statement when Borg rejected the compromise offer, "It became quite clear then that only a complete reversal of the rule would be acceptable to him."
There was nothing more the management could do to help Borg, Burnett said, short of withdrawing Wimbledon from the Grand Prix.
However, Wimbledon officials are prepared to make one more concession, should Borg have a sudden change of heart. If Borg does go to Wimbledon, the draw and seedings will be postponed from one week to 48 hours before the tournament starts.