Rod Laver

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Rod Laver
Country: Australia
Height: 5 ft 8 in (172 cm)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Plays: Left
Turned pro: 1962
Retired: 1974
Highest singles ranking: 1
Singles titles: 39
Career prize money: US$1,564,213
Grand Slam Record
Titles: 11
Australian Open W ('60, '62, '69)
French Open W ('62, '69)
Wimbledon W ('61, '62, '68, '69)
US Open W ('62, '69)

Rodney George "Rod" Laver (born August 9, 1938, in Rockhampton, Australia) is a former World No. 1 tennis player from Australia. He is the only player in tennis history to have won all four of tennis' Grand Slam singles titles in the same year on two separate occasions – first as an amateur in 1962, and then again as a professional in 1969. For this achievement, Laver is considered by many tennis fans to be the greatest individual player of all time.

Laver was a young boy when he left school to pursue a career in tennis that would end up lasting 23 years. Laver's first major singles title was the Australian Championships in 1960, where he beat fellow Australian Neale Fraser in a titanic five-set final. He then captured his first Wimbledon singles crown in 1961. In 1962, he became only the second male player after Don Budge in 1938 to win all four of the Grand Slam titles in the same year.

At the time, the Grand Slam events were only open to amateur players, who were given (under the table) little more than cost of living money for their appearances in tournaments.

Laver turned professional after completing the Grand Slam in 1962. He quickly established himself among the leading professional players, delighting crowds with duels against Pancho Gonzales and Ken Rosewall. During the next seven years, Laver won the US Professional Singles Championship five times, including four in a row from 1966-1969.

With the dawn of the Open Era in 1968, professional players were once again allowed to compete in the Grand Slam events. Laver became Wimbledon's first Open Era champion in 1968, beating fellow-Australian Tony Roche in straight sets in the final.

In 1969, Laver achived the Grand Slam for a second time, sealing the achievement with a four-set win over Roche in the US Open final. He had an incredible record that year, winning 17 of the 32 singles touarnments he entered and compiling a 106-16 win-loss record. In beating John Newcombe in four sets in the Wimbledon final, he captured the title at the All England Club for the fourth consecutive time that he'd entered the championship (and reached the final for the sixth consecutive time as he'd been runner-up in 1959 and 1960). He set a record of 31 consecutive match victories at Wimbledon between 1961 and 1970, which lasted until 1980 when it was eclipsed by Bjorn Borg. Unlike his first Grand Slam year in 1962, in 1969 Laver was playing in events open to all players in the professional and amateur ranks, and thus winning tournaments that involved all of the best players in the world.

In 1971, Laver won a then-record US$292,717 in tournament prize money. The figure enabled him to become the first tennis player to surpass US$1 million in prize money.

Laver helped Australia win the Davis Cup four consecutive times from 1959-62. In 1973, professionals were permitted to play in the Davis Cup for the first time, and Laver was on a winning team for the fifth time, claiming two singles and a doubles rubber in the final as Australia beat the United States 5-0.

Laver was officially ranked the World No. 1 player in 1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969. He retired from the professional tennis tour in 1974. He was still ranked in the Top 10 at the time of his retirement.

Laver's eleven Grand Slam singles titles currently place him tied for third place on the all-time list, along with Borg. Only Pete Sampras and Roy Emerson have won more Grand Slam singles titles. Laver may well have won more than eleven Grand Slam singles titles had he not been barred from entering the Slams from 1963-67, due to his professional status. Laver also won eight Grand Slam doubles titles.

While there are other players who could also validly have a claim to the title of the greatest male tennis player of all time, few would argue that Laver is, at the very least, among the best six or seven men ever to play tennis. Many fans consider him to be the greatest ever as he is the only player (male or female) to have achieved the Grand Slam twice.

Laver was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981.

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.

In 2000, the centre court at Melbourne Park, which today hosts the Australian Open, was named the Rod Laver Arena in his honour.

In 2003, Laver, along with fellow Australian tennis superstar Margaret Smith Court, was honoured with his portrait on a postage stamp by the "Australia Post Australian Legends Award".


Grand Slam singles finals

Wins (11)

Year     Championship               Opponent in Final       Score in Final
1960     Australian Championships   Neale Fraser            5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6, 8-6 
1961     Wimbledon                  Charles McKinley        6-3, 6-1, 6-4 
1962     Australian Championships   Roy Emerson             8-6, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4
1962     French Championships       Roy Emerson             3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 9-7, 6-2
1962     Wimbledon                  Martin Mulligan         6-2, 6-2, 6-1 
1962     US Championships           Roy Emerson             6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4           
Open Era
1968     Wimbledon                  Tony Roche              6-3, 6-4, 6-2 
1969     Australian Open            Andres Gimeno           6-3, 6-4, 7-5 
1969     French Open                Ken Rosewall            6-4, 6-3, 6-4
1969     Wimbledon                  John Newcombe           6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
1969     US Open                    Tony Roche              7-9, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 

Runner-ups (6)

Year     Championship               Opponent in Final       Score in Final
1959     Wimbledon                  Alex Olmedo             6-4, 6-3, 6-4
1960     Wimbledon                  Neale Fraser            6-4, 3-6, 9-7, 7-5 
1960     US Championships           Neale Fraser            6-4, 6-4, 9-7   
1961     Australian Championships   Roy Emerson             1-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 
1961     US Championships           Roy Emerson             7-5, 6-3, 6-2       
Open Era
1968     French Open                Ken Rosewal             6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2

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