Childhood & Early Life
He was born on March 7, 1960 in the city of Ostrava in Moravian-Silesian Region, Czechoslovakia (presently Czech Republic) to Jiri Lendl and Olga Lendlova as their only child.
His father was a lawyer and a chess master who became a junior champion of Bohemia and Moravia and played the chess championship in Czechoslovakia. Jiri also played tennis and ranked among top fifteen Czechoslovakian male players. His mother Ogla was an ace tennis player who was once achieved the number two female tennis player in Czechoslovakia.
He became the national age group champion at 12 years of age and defeated his mother in a tennis game for the first time when he was 14.
When he was 15 he was sent to Florida for a 6 weeks training by the Czechoslovakian tennis federation.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In 1978 he started playing tennis professionally and soon made a mark in the game winning both the ‘Wimbledon’ and ‘French Open’ junior titles for boys in that year and attained world number one ranking as a junior player.
He continued to make impact on the game and in 1979 he reached his first top-level singles final.
In 1980, he achieved 7 singles titles that include 3 tournament victories, which were attained in 3 consecutive weeks.
He continued with the winning spree in 1981 with 10 more titles that include the first season-ending ‘Masters Grand Prix’ tour title, beating Vitas Gerulaitis in five sets. However that year he faced defeat at the hands of Swedish player Björn Borg in his first ever Grand Slam final at the ‘French Open’.
In 1981, he moved to the US and started living with his mentor cum friend and former Polish tennis player Wojtek Fibak.
He won all the ten ‘World Championship Tennis’ (‘WCT’) tournaments he competed and won his first ‘WCT’ final in 1982, beating John McEnroe in straight sets. Again in the ‘Masters Grand Prix’ final in the 1982 ‘’Volvo Masters’ singles tennis tournament he beat McEnroe in straight sets claiming his second season-ending championship of that specific tour.
Competition between Grand Prix and WCT resulted in steep rise of tournament prize money and Lendl's winning spree of titles soon made him the highest-earning tennis player.
Out of the 23 single tournaments he competed in 1982, he became victorious in 15. With the US Open that year, he got another opportunity to win a Grand Slam final but was defeated by Jimmy Connors.
Grand Slam titles seemed to elude him during his early years and in 1983, he ended up as the runner-up at both the ‘US Open’ and the ‘Australian Open’.
Continue Reading Below
In 1984 he won his first Grand Slam title beating John McEnroe in the ‘French Open’. However, he was defeated by John McEnroe that year in straight sets in both the ‘US Open’ and the ‘Volvo Masters’ finals. He again won the ‘French Open’ title in 1986 defeating Mikael Pernfors and in 1987 defeated Mats Wilander to win the title.
He purchased his own house in 1984 in Greenwich, Connecticut. He made an application for a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, which he received in 1987. He wanted to represent the United States in the upcoming 1988 ‘Olympic Games’ as also the ‘Davis Cup’ and thus it became all-important for him to get US citizenship as early as possible. Finally on July 7, 1992, he became a citizen of the United States.
In 1985, he emerged winner in the ‘US Open’ final against John McEnroe and retained the title in 1986 and 1987 defeating Miloslav Mečíř and Mats Wilander respectively.
He achieved three consecutive ‘Masters Grand Prix’ wins, all ‘Nabisco Masters – Singles’, which included the 1985 and 1986 wins against Boris Becker and the 1987 win against Mats Wilander, thus bagging a total of five Grand Prix wins.
In 1989 for the first time he won the ‘Australian Open’ title defeating Miloslav Mečíř in straight sets. As the defending ‘Australian Open’ champion he regained his title in 1990 by defeating Stefan Edberg, again in straight sets. That year he won a total of 10 titles in 17 tournaments.
His match winning percentage was over 90 which was later touched by the Swiss tennis star Roger Federer in 2006. Although he achieved great heights in his tennis career, he was unable to win Wimbledon even after reaching the semi-finals in 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989 and 1990 and reaching the finals in 1986 and 1987.
On December 21, 1994, because of his chronic back pain he declared his retirement from professional tennis, however his final decision came after around three months.
Post his retirement from professional tennis he played a few exhibition matches. He also took up golf and earned a handicap of 0.
He was inducted as coach of Scottish tennis player Andy Murray on December 31, 2011. It was however announced on March 19, 2014, that the duo would end the coaching partnership.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Samantha Frankel on September 16, 1989. Their five daughters are Marika, Nikola, Daniela and twins Isabelle and Caroline.
While Marika, Isabelle and Daniela hold interest in golf, Caroline is more drawn towards rowing and Nikola enjoys horsing events.
He is an enthusiast and collector of art and holds a huge collection of posters of Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist Alfons Mucha, which were exhibited in 2013 in Prague.