Rod Laver, nicknamed “Rocket” was named the greatest tennis player of the twentieth century, and for good reason. He is the only player (among men and women) in the history of tennis, whose victories in majors have allowed him to become the holder of the Grand Slam in singles twice. He won the first “Grand Slam” in 1962, when he was an amateur, but the next year Rod became a professional, where in 1967 he also won the “Professional Grand Slam”.
With the beginning of the “Open Era” in 1968, Laver, like other professionals, again began to take part in the Grand Slam tournaments.
He got his second “Grand Slam” in 1969.
It should be noted that three of the four Grand Slam tournaments were held on grass courts – Laver’s favorite cover. But, nevertheless, he twice won the “Roland Garros” – the unofficial world championship on clay courts, thereby proving the versatility of his talent.
Laver’s triumphs in tennis history are known as the “Australian Era” – his main rivals were compatriots, partially “diluted” by the Americans.
Laver was one of the first in his technique to use top spins. The combination of aggressive play with fast movements on the court made him one of the first founders of the modern style of play.
For 1971, his fees amounted to almost $ 300,000 – an unheard-of amount at the time. He also became the first tennis millionaire, and when he finished his professional career in 1978, his earnings amounted to more than $ 1.5 million. Although he was unlucky in this: with the beginning of the 80s, prize pools began to increase significantly.
Thus, the playing style of the great Australian and his earnings became a role model for the next generation of tennis professionals.
CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH
Rodney Laver was born on August 9, 1938 and grew up on a cattle ranch near Rockhampton (Queensland, Australia), owned by his father. He was the third of four children. The older brother, 6 years old, was named Trevor, Bob was 4 years old, and Lois’s sister was 9 years younger than the future champion. They were the “products” of the tennis family. Roy’s father was fond of tennis since childhood, and his mother, Melba Roffy, also had a good command of a racket. In city tournaments, they usually won both singles and mixed doubles. All children followed in the footsteps of parents and local tournaments in their various age categories. Roy Laver built a court at his farm, and the neighbors observed an atypical situation when Roy prepared dinner after work, and on the court Melba and Rodney played against the eldest sons.
Rodney was a very low and weak boy, and when he was introduced to tennis at the age of 6, his father had to shorten his racket (saw off part of the handle). At the age of 8, he had a coach named Charlie Hollis and was a friend of his father. Over the weekend, Roy drove Rodney to various small cities on his truck to play tournaments.
At the age of 13, he met with his older brother Bon in the final of the Rockhampton Championship and, according to eyewitnesses, he was barely visible over the net. Although Rod lost to his brother, he was soon included in the Brisbane training camp sponsored by the local newspaper The Courier-Mail.
Rod Laver Biography
In the camp, the game of an inconspicuous teenager was noticed by the legendary Brisbane Harry Hopman, who took young Laver under his care and began to hone the game of left-handed people. It was Hopman who dubbed Rod the “Rocket.” What prompted the trainer to give such a nickname to his student? Firstly, consonance with the place where he lived: “Rockhampton” – “Rocket” (note by author. The Laver family moved to Rockhampton in 1948). And, secondly, at the beginning Rodney was quite inert and the nickname was ironic. But quite soon the speed of action that appeared in him and the instant reaction began to correspond to the nickname.
Biography of Rod Laver For days on end, he loomed on the court, not at all embarrassed by such a magnificent environment. I could not know then that Harry Hopman considers him the most gifted in the team, highlighting his game temperament, which he did not see equal in his coaching practice. This unprepossessing-looking left-hander trained with such ecstasy that he did not pay any attention to everything that was happening around. Only occasionally did he leave the training ground for a short while, and then, in order to play the next tournament match, then immediately after the next loss (then he never won), he delightedly joined the training session, “sparring” his much more successful comrades. Even when Rodney was out of court, he did not stop to improve his game.