Who is Pat Rafter?
Patrick Rafter is an Australian former World No. 1 tennis player. Known for his natural serve-and-volley style of play, he twice won the men's singles title at the US Open and was twice the runner-up at Wimbledon. Born in Queensland into a large family, he became interested in sports at a young age and started playing tennis at the age of five with his father and three older brothers. By the time he was in his teens there was no doubt in his mind that he wanted to pursue the sport professionally. He turned professional in 1991 but success did not come easily to him. Only after a few years did he receive his first breakthrough when he surprised many by winning the US Open in 1997. There was no looking back once he established his dominance on the world stage and enjoyed a series of successes, winning several coveted trophies. In 1999, he clinched the World No.1 ranking though only for one week, making him the shortest-reigning world No. 1 in ATP tour history. His skyrocketing sporting career was marred by injuries and he was forced into a premature retirement. A very popular public figure, he became an underwear model and businessman following his retirement.
Childhood & Early Life
Patrick Michael "Pat" Rafter was born on 28 December 1972, in Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia, to Jocelyn and Jim Rafter. He is the seventh of the couple’s nine children.
He developed an interest in sports as a little boy and started playing tennis at the age of five with his father and three older brothers. By the time he was in his teens he had decided to pursue tennis on the professional level.
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Patrick Rafter turned professional in 1991 when he was in his late teens. The initial years as a professional tennis player were not easy for him and it was only in 1994 that he won his first career singles title in Manchester.
The next few years were again unremarkable. His career received a big boost in 1997 when he managed to reach the semifinals at the French Open though he eventually lost to Sergi Bruguera. The same year, he had a surprise victory in the US Open, defeating Greg Rusedski in a four-set final. This victory made him the first non-American to win the title since Stefan Edberg in 1992.
His unexpected victory at the US Open—which was his first Grand Slam title—catapulted him to World No. 2 rank, behind only Pete Sampras.
He maintained his great form throughput the next year. He won the Canadian Open and Cincinnati in a row in 1998—only Andre Agassi before him had won both these tournaments in the same year in 1995.
The 1998 also saw him reach the final of the US Open after defeating Pete Sampras in a five-set semifinal. He met fellow Australian player Mark Philippoussis in the final and beat him to defend his US Open title.
Patrick Rafter won six tournaments in 1998 and finished the year at No. 4 in the world. In 1999, he reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time where he lost in straight sets to Agassi. In July the same year, Rafter became the World No. 1 in men’s singles though he held the title for just one week, making him the shortest-reigning world No. 1 in ATP tour history.
In 1999, he won the Australian Open men's doubles title (partnering Jonas Björkman). He and Björkman also won doubles titles at the ATP Masters Series events in Canada the same year.
Rafter was plagued by injuries during the late 1990s and also underwent surgery for shoulder tendinitis. His injuries drastically affected his performance and by July 2000 his ranking had fallen to No. 21. Still he managed to reach the Wimbledon final after defeating Agassi in the semifinals. Rafter faced Sampras in the final, and despite a strong start, lost to him.
He reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2001 but lost the match to Agassi in five sets. Later the same year, he once again reached the Wimbledon final which he lost to Goran Ivanišević.
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He retired at the end of 2002 after winning a total of 11 singles titles and 10 doubles titles. Years later he attempted a comeback when he partnered Lleyton Hewitt in the doubles draw of the 2014 Australian Open. The duo lost and Rafter retired from the sport.
After his retirement he became an underwear model for Bonds and is also a successful businessman.
A generous philanthropist, he donated half of the prize money from his 1997 and 1998 US Open wins to the Starlight Children's Foundation.
He also has his own charity organization that raises funds for children's causes each year. Rafter also supports animal rights.
Awards & Achievements
In 2002, he won the Australian of the Year award.
He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2006.
On Australia Day 2008, Patrick Rafter was inducted into the Australian Open Hall of Fame.
Personal Life & Legacy
Patrick Rafter married his long-term girlfriend Lara Feltham in 2004. The couple has two children.
Patrick Rafter has an estimated net worth of $35 million.