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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Wimbledon legends: Rod Laver
Rod Laver
Born: 9/8/38
Queensland, Australia
Wimbledon titles: 1961, 1962, 1968, 1969
Runner up: 1959, 1960
Grand Slam titles: 11
Prize money: $1,564,213
Rod Laver is rated by many as the world's greatest player and his two Grand Slams of all four majors in 1962 and 1969 are evidence of that.

His achievements are even more amazing when you realise he did not play at the majors between turning pro in 1963 and the start of the Open era in 1968.

When he did play at SW19 he reached six consecutive finals, a record only equalled by Bjorn Borg.

His tally of titles was four in a row, with a brace bookending his time out.

There appears little doubt that if the 'Rockhampton Rocket' had played in those intervening years, he would have won far more Grand Slam championships than Pete Sampras' record of 13 and could have won nine Wimbledons in a row.

In style of play, Laver was a fiercely-competitive left-hander. He combined aggressive and powerful ground strokes with lightning-quick movement and great discipline on court.

In an era when swashbuckling Australians like John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall dominated the game, Laver's ruthlessness made him probably the first truly modern player.

He was the first tennis millionaire and led the way with earnings from sponsorships.

In those days, the Grand Slam was probably a slightly easier proposition than it is today.

There were far fewer players on the circuit and in the early rounds he was likely to come up against county standard players who would not get near the draw these days.

In addition, there were only two surfaces to contend with in the majors, grass and clay.

But few doubt that Laver's all-round abilities and character would have made him a dominant character whatever era he played in.





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