Rod LaverRod Laver (born August 9, 1938) is a professional tennis player. Born Rodney George Laver at Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia, he is considered by most as the greatest player to ever play the game of tennis.
- Rod Laver -
He was a young boy when he left school to pursue a career in tennis, a career that would last 23 years. A left-hander, his began playing at a time when tennis players were given what amounted to little more than cost of living money. When American business tycoon, Lamar Hunt, formed a professional tennis tour, it changed the game forever, even for Rod Laver who was already approaching the end despof his career. There was much resistance by the tournament operators to paying "professional" players prize money and as a result, Rod Laver did not play at the US Open, the Wimbledon championships or any of the other great championships for five years after he turned professional in 1963. Nevertheless, with the start of what is now called the "Open era" in tennis that began in 1968, Laver still became the first tennis player to surpass the $1 million mark in lifetime prize money.
There is no question that had Laver been allowed to play during that five year period when he was at his best, he would have won many more Grand Slam championships and might well have won nine Wimbledon titles in a row. Despite these setbacks, in his illustrious career, Laver still won 11 Grand Slam singles titles. His victories include winning the Australian Open singles championship in 1962. That same year he won the US Open singles championship and repeated as winner in 1969. In addition, he won the French Open singles championship twice and the Wimbledon championships singles title 4 times.
Rod Laver won the singles Grand Slam in tennis in 1962, becoming only the second person in tennis history to accomplish the feat since the American player Don Budge did it in 1938. He defeated Roy Emerson in the Australian and French Open finals, Marty Mulligan at the Wimbledon championships and Roy Emerson again in the U.S. Open to complete his Grand Slam. However, Laver's greatest accomplishment is that he did it again in 1969, the only person to ever do it twice. That year he defeated Andres Gimeno in the Australian Open final, Ken Rosewall in the French Open, John Newcombe at the Wimbledon championships and Tony Roche in the U.S. Open to complete his second Grand Slam.
In 1981, Rod Laver was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, in Newport, Rhode Island. In his native country, the major tennis facility in Melbourne, Australia where the Australian Open is played is named after him.
In July 1998, Laver suffered a major stroke while being interviewed by ESPN for a series on greatest athletes of the 20th century. Characteristically, Tennis played an important role in his recovery.