STOCKHOLM – When images of Barbro Holmberg being rushed to the hospital were broadcast around the world, it was the first glimpse many had ever had of Tiger Woods’ mother-in-law.
Back home in Sweden, however, Elin Nordegren’s parents are quite used to the spotlight.
Holmberg is a well-known politician in Sweden and the Scandinavian country’s former migration minister – and was formerly married to a prominent journalist and author. As such, an ambulance trip from Wood’s Orlando-area mansion – or from anywhere else – would have made headlines in Sweden even without the media frenzy surrounding the world’s No. 1 golfer after a late-night crash and reports of infidelity.
“I think she’s used to it,” said Olov Rydberg, who serves as Holmberg’s deputy in her current job as county governor in Gavleborg in central Sweden.
Of course, the rather unusual circumstances meant it was a top story in nearly every Swedish media outlet – some of which have flown their own reporters to Florida to report on the ongoing saga.
But Rydberg said Holmberg has other things to worry about rather than her newfound global fame. While she was in the hospital, Swedish wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson said it was closing a plant in the Gavleborg region that employs 856 people.
Rydberg said he spoke to Holmberg on the phone, and that her concerns were focused on the plant workers.
“I haven’t really noticed anything (concerning the media attention),” he said. “We’ve just talked about work.”
Holmberg was treated for stomach pains and was released 11 hours later.
Nordegren’s father, Thomas Nordegren, is a radio talk show host and spent nearly a decade working as a foreign correspondent for radio and TV. He has been hounded for comments about his daughter’s marriage ever since the early-morning car crash on Nov. 27, but has refused to divulge any details.
Meanwhile, the globally broadcast images of Holmberg on a stretcher and the details published from the 911 call from Woods’ house has caused Swedish media to debate to the ethics of digging into someone’s private life.
“With what right do you publish each word of a phone call where a panicking daughter is calling for ambulance after her mom collapsed in the bathroom?” Jan Helin, the editor-in-chief of Sweden’s largest newspaper Aftonbladet, wrote Wednesday on the tabloid’s Web site.
He added, however, that Swedes have an added interest in the Woods story that goes beyond the worldwide fascination with a superstar athlete.
“The normal interest in gossip and curiosity is partly enough of an explanation. That’s human behavior,” he wrote. “But it’s not the entire explanation in this case. In this story, there’s something deeper that I think can be most easily expressed like this: We’re rooting for Elin.”