The 1960s and '70s was an era of Australian tennis giants - Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Neale Fraser, Lew Hoad, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall - but Rod Laver stood head and shoulders above them all. A diminutive, left-handed, red-headed country boy from Rockhampton, Rod Laver is one of Australia's greatest ever sporting champions and arguably the best tennis player the world has ever seen. He is the only male player to have won the Grand Slam - all four major titles in the same calendar year - in the Open era, and he is the only player to have won two Grand Slams. He was the dominant force in world tennis for almost two decades, playing and defeating some of the greatest players of the 20th century.
Rod Laver writes vividly of his life, from the early days growing up in a Queensland country town, playing on makeshift backyard courts, to breaking into the amateur circuit and eventually the professional realm. He also writes movingly about the stroke he suffered in 1998, and of his beloved wife of more than 40 years, Mary, who died last year after a long illness. Rod Laver's memoir is a wonderfully nostalgic journey into Australia's sporting past, filled with anecdotes about the great players and great matches, set against the backdrop of a tennis world changing from rigid amateurism to the professional game we recognise today.
About the Author
Rodney George "Rod" Laver MBE was born in Rockhampton in 1938, the same year that American Donald Budge completed the first Grand Slam. Rod holds the record for the most singles titles won in the history of tennis - with more than 200 career titles - and was the second man to win the Grand Slam in 1962. In 1969 he won the Grand Slam again, becoming the only male player to have won the Grand Slam in the open era. Rod remains the only player, male or female, to have claimed two Grand Slams - once as an amateur and once as a professional. He was ranked World No.1 for seven years in a row and is the last male player to have won every major twice. By the end of the 1960s he was regarded as the best tennis player in the world. In January 2000, the epicentre of Australian tennis, centre court at Melbourne Park, was named Rod Laver Arena in his honour. Rod currently lives in Carlsbad, California.
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Rod Laver could be the nicest sportsman Australia has ever produced. Fiercely competitive on the court but nature's gentleman off it. A caring man, very humble, quite materialistic (seems quite concerned about money). As a consequence this isn't a page turner; there is no major revelation, no controversy or any particular grudges that Rod feels compelled to elaborate on. It is instead a fantastic chronology of Rod's years in tennis from a young 7 year old to a still playing septuagenarian. Rod is very clear on many of his major matches which are described in detail, although he does rely on support from clippings of the time for some missing information. If there is one issue for me it is that Rod's love and affection for his family can at times conflict with his desire to be back on court and making money; he hates being away from them but it is mostly the cash that keeps him away as that was his job. Perhaps for me the challenge is that I think these men are extremely (almost obscenely) rich and that might not have been relatively the case when Rod was on the pro tour. Perhaps he had to get back to work to help make ends meet; I'm not sure. This book is definitely a great way to familiarise the reader with all aspects of tennis in the 60's and early 70's; the dilemma all players felt to turn pro or not, the challenge of winning the pillars of tennis (the grand slam) and the Australian dominance of tennis during this time. I enjoyed this book and it reflects well on a great life. He is absolutely a legend of Australian sport and life.
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 1st November 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 15.8 x 3.7
Weight (kg): 0.8