Rod Laver Bio And Facts

Rod Laver is an Australian tennis legend who holds many records, both for his time and many that still stand today. As a left-handed player, Laver was one of the most incredible tennis aficionados of all time, racking up wins in the pre and post-Open Era. Read on to learn all about Rod Laver and his all-time great career.

Rod Laver

Rod Laver was born on August 9, 1938. He began playing tennis as a teenager, dropping out of school and never looking back as he started a monumental career. Throughout his career, he has accumulated many title wins, in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. While all of his rankings come from his singles playing, he still is a dominant force in doubles and mixed doubles. He also holds 72 national titles and has amassed an impressive amount of prize money from his wins. 

Over his career, Rod Laver has proven to be a dominant force in the sport and has inspired many others to take up the sport and create their own legacy.

  • Birthday: August 9, 1938 (09-08-1938)
  • Net Worth: $20 Million
  • Occupation: Retired Tennis Player, Philanthropist
  • Height: 5’8” (1.73 m)
  • Weight: 150 lbs (68.04 kg)
  • Plays: Left-handed
  • Years Active: 1957-1979
  • Career Wins: 652
  • Career Losses: 161
  • Nicknames: Rocket

Tennis Career

Rod Laver was introduced to the sport of tennis at a young age, being the son of two tournament lawn tennis players. His first overseas tour was in 1956 and his first notable tour win was in 1959 when he beat his opponents in the Australian Open doubles championship and Wimbledon mixed doubles. Laver won the Australian Open singles title in 1960 and after that, his career took off, collecting many wins and tournament wins through his time in the professional stage. Laver’s first Wimbledon win came the next year, in 1961. 

Officially turning professional in 1963, he was a dominant player, racking up wins including the first open Wimbledon championship. Because of his incredible playing style and the fact that he is left-handed, Laver dominated the scene, being the first professional tennis player to surpass the $1 million mark in career prize money.

From 1968 to 1975 his average title wins per year was nine. Laver is known for being the best player to ever live. After his incredible career, retiring in 1976, he had amassed an impressive 200 singles titles and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981.             

Titles and Awards

  • 3x Australian Open Singles Champion (1960, 1962, 1969)
  • 2x French Open Singles Champion (1962, 1969)
  • 4x Wimbledon Singles Champion (1961, 1962, 1968, 1969)
  • 2x US Open Singles Champion (1962,1969)
  • 1981 International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee

Rod Laver is one of the winningest tennis players in the history of tennis, and he has an incredible list of titles and awards. He won 11 Grand Slam singles titles and contributed to five Davis Cup wins. He was awarded the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993 and the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981. Laver was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985. The ITF honored him with the Philippe Chatrier Award for his contributions to tennis in 1998.

In 2000, center court at Melbourne’s National Tennis Center was renamed the Rod Laver Arena and Laver received the Australian Sports Medal. He was recognized as a Legend of Australian Sport in 2002 and a Queensland Great in 2005. Laver was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame in 2009. Not only has he helped shape modern day tennis, but has been a model for pro tennis players to strive for.

Personal Life

Born in Rockhampton, Australia, Laver was introduced to sports at a very young age. Not only did he excel, but he dropped out from high school to pursue his passion for tennis. He worked on a cattle farm as a kid and that made him a strong athlete and toughened him up significantly.

Laver’s early love for sports kickstarted his love and passion for the game. He has had to overcome some injuries that could have ended his career or even his life. In 1998, Laver suffered a huge stroke that could have easily killed him, but he survived to play another day. 

Through his incredible career, not only has he been able to be an amazing husband, but an amazing father as well. In 1966, Laver married Mary Benson and soon after had one son. Unfortunately, Mary passed away in 2012 at the age of 84. Laver currently lives in Carlsbad, California.

Fun Facts

  • Laver holds the record for winning the most titles in one year, winning 22 in 1962, 19 in 1967, and 18 in 1969.
  • His famous rivalries included Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzales, and Roy Emmerson (another Australian tennis professional).
  • In 1986, Inside Tennis conducted a poll, and with the assistance of 37 tennis experts, ranked Laver first on their list, even ahead of all current and former players.
  • Laver suffered a stroke in 1998 during an interview with ESPN for “20th Century’s Greatest Athlete.”
  • After suffering that serious stroke, he took up golf in order to satisfy his urge to compete and found it easier to do the motion of swinging a golf club.
  • As an Australian Davis Cup athlete, he never lost a series. He has a win and loss record of 16-4 and 4-0 for singles and doubles, respectively.


What was Rod Laver’s nickname?

Laver was commonly known as “The Rocket” throughout his incredible career. Many do not know why that nickname stuck. Some believe that it came from his ability to chase down balls and smash them for winners. In his memoirs, he said that he became “The Rocket” ironically because he was not fast or agile. This name stuck when he was asked, “You’re the Rockhampton Rocket, aren’t you?”

Does Rod Laver play any other sports?

After suffering a serious stroke, Laver took up golf to satisfy his urge to compete and found it easier to do the motion of swinging a golf club. While being an incredible and legendary tennis player, Laver finds solace in other sports, especially since he has been getting older. As a kid, he was specifically a tennis player, because he was very talented at an early age and never branched to any other major sports.