Roy Emerson is an Australian former No.1 tennis player who won 28 Major titles, including 12 Major singles titles and 16 Grand Slam tournament men's doubles titles. He holds the unique distinction of being the only male player to have completed a Career Grand Slam in both singles and doubles. Born in Queensland, he grew up on a dairy farm milking cows. He became interested in tennis as a young boy and received coaching to develop his game. He won his first Grand Slam tournament doubles title with Neale Fraser in 1959 at Wimbledon and clinched his first Grand Slam tournament singles title at the Australian Championships a couple of years later. From then on it did not take him long to establish himself as one of the most formidable tennis players of Australia. Tall and well-built, he was famous for his exceptional level of fitness which he achieved with rigorous physical training. His high energy level paired with his agility enabled him to develop his legendary serve-and-volley style of play and allowed him to enjoy success on all surfaces. His playing career was a phenomenally successful one and he was ranked in the world Top 10 nine times between 1959-1967, peaking at the No. 1 position in 1964 and 1965.
Childhood & Early Life
Roy Stanley Emerson was born on a farm in Blackbutt, Queensland, on 3 November 1936. His family later moved to Brisbane.
He went to the Brisbane Grammar School and Ipswich Grammar School. As a young boy, he developed an interest in tennis and received training to develop his skills at the sport.
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He partnered with Neale Fraser in 1959 to win his first Grand Slam tournament doubles title at Wimbledon; he soon developed a reputation as a very skilled doubles player.
He won his first Grand Slam tournament singles title at the Australian Championships (now known as Australian Open) in 1961, beating compatriot Rod Laver in four sets in the final. Later the same year he claimed his second Major singles crown when he again beat Laver in the final of the US Championships (now known as US Open).
Having received coaching under the legendary Harry Hopman, Emerson emerged as a serve-and-volley specialist who was also skilled at a variety of other playing styles. Hopman greatly stressed on good fitness and under his guidance Emerson adopted a rigorous training regime which helped him develop his stamina.
Between 1963 and 1967, he won five consecutive men's singles titles at the Australian Championships. During the same period he won his first French Championships (now known as French Open) singles title, beating Pierre Darmon in the final in 1963.
He played against Fred Stolle in the Wimbledon singles final in 1964 and registered a victory. The year 1964 was a highly memorable one for him—he won 55 consecutive matches during the year and finished the year with 109 victories out of 115 matches.
His exceptional on-field performances got him elevated to the rank of the World No. 1 amateur player in 1964 and 1965. He successfully defended his Australian and Wimbledon singles crowns in 1965 but was unable to win the Wimbledon again in 1966 due to an injury sustained during the final match.
Roy Emerson turned professional in 1968 and signed a contract with the National Tennis League. In 1971, he won the Grand Slam doubles title, partnering Rod Laver.
A proficient doubles player, he won 16 Grand Slam doubles crowns with five different partners. The tennis great Jack Kramer wrote in his autobiography that Emerson was the best doubles player of all the moderns.
In 1973, he won his 105th and final career title at the Pacific Coast Championships in San Francisco, after beating Björn Borg in the final of tournament.
He served as a player/coach for the Boston Lobsters in World Team Tennis (WTT) in the late 1970s, mostly playing doubles. He coached the Lobsters in the 1978 season. He also briefly coached juniors at East Lake Woodlands in Florida; his students included Pat Cash, Kim Warwick, and Derek Damico.
Awards & Achievements
Roy Emerson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1986.
He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and the Centenary Medal the next year.
Personal Life & Legacy
Roy Emerson has been married to his wife Joy for over five decades. The couple met as teenagers in 1952. They had two children: a daughter named Heidi and a son, Antony, who was an All-American in tennis at Corona del Mar High School and the University of Southern California. Antony died of cancer in January 2016.
The Roy Emerson trophy, which is awarded to the male champion at the Brisbane International, is named in his honor.
This Australian former tennis champion is the only male player in history to win a career Grand Slam in singles and doubles.
This tennis champion won 28 Major titles—an all-time record for a male amateur player.