Jean-Noel Bioul is Mats Wilander's henchman and looks after his deals...[He says, about Mats]: "There is naturally a business side of our relationship that is built on my respect for him as a tennis player and his respect for me as a businessman. But there is also something that is more important: the feelings I have for Mats as a person. It is a friendship which I do not have with any of our other clients."
From very early on it was obvious to Jean-Noel that he was dealing with a very different kind of sportsman. He has never forgotten a conversation he had with the then 17-year-old recent French champion in June 1982.
"In a calm, quiet manner he explained to me that money was not the important thing in his life. He knew that he would come to earn sufficient for his needs in the future. Now it was a matter of toning down the hysteria that surrounded him. "I am not about to start putting on an act or doing anything just so that you will be able to market me better. I am what I am, and this Mats Wilander will have to be good enough for the future too."
The directive was quite unequivocal. And Mats has stood firm to this same principle throughout his career.
"He has fought for his personal freedom to make choices and to do what he wants to do and feels like doing. My job has been to find projects and contracts which have not clashed with his wishes."
Jean-Noel has never had any problems finding interested parties and he can, as easily as anything, single out the factors that are Wilander's best assets in tennis's business world.
"First of all he has been one of the very top players for eight years. He is therefore reliable. He has class, and a dignified way of behaving, he is popular with the mass media and has a gentle and sympathetic personality. All this appeals to most of our intended clients. So the whole time Mats is very well marketed on his own terms", says Jean-Noel Bioul.
Nevertheless it is an irrefutable fact that Mats has said "No thank you", to enormous sums of money in order to preserve some of his personal freedom.
"That is the case, without a doubt. I venture to say that Mats has turned down opportunities to earn a further seven or eight million kronor a year over a very long period. That is to say perhaps 40-50 million more in his career to date. This makes him quite unique among all tennis players and all sportsmen I have met over the years."
(Extract from "Mats Wilander and the Game Behind the Headlines" (Swedish title: "Mats Wilander och spelet bakom rubrikerna"), Stockholm, Wahlstroms, 1990)