Former Australian tennis player, Ken Rosewall is an Australian living legend and is considered to be one of the top male tennis players of all time, having enjoyed a career that spanned from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. He was the World No.1 player for a total of 6 years. Across his career Rosewall won multiple tennis titles, played in 16 Grand Slam finals, and won 8 Grand Slam singles titles including the Australian Open three times (across 1971 and 1972) all at a time of the greatest era of men’s tennis that Australia has ever seen, with Laver, Hoad, Roche and Newcombe. At the 1971 Australian Open Ken became the first male player during the open era to win a Grand Slam tournament without dropping a set.
Even though Rosewall won eight Grand Slam titles across his illustrious career, he actually missed out on playing 44 Grand Slam events over an eleven year period because he turned professional during a time when the pros were ineligible to play Grand Slam events (prior to 1968).
Should Ken have been able to participate in Grand Slams prior to 1968, he would have surely added to his 8 Grand Slam titles. Although a finalist at Wimbledon on four separate occasions, it was a Grand Slam that he never won. Incredibly, Ken played his first Grand Slam final at age 18 when he won the Australian Open and his last Grand Slam final at age 39, the US Open against Jimmy Connors. Even at age 43, some thirty years after his first title in 1949, Ken was still ranked in the top 15 in the world due to his virtually injury free career. What a truly amazing feat.
Today Ken Rosewall lives in Turrumurra with his wife, Wilma. It is the same home that they moved in to after their marriage in 1956, the home that they have lived in for the past 48 years and the same home that they raised their two sons, Brett and Glenn (who now have five children of their own between them).
Background: Despite his phenomenal career, Rosewall came from humble beginnings. He was born on 2 November 1934 in Hurstville, Sydney. His father, Robert Rosewall, was a grocer and when Ken was only 1 year old his family moved to Rockdale where his father bought three clay tennis courts.
Beginnings: It was there, at the age of 3, that Ken started playing tennis with a shortened racquet. A natural left-hander, he was taught by his father to play right-handed. Perhaps as a result of this unorthodox training (or in spite of it), he developed a powerful and effective backhand but never had anything more than an accurate but relatively soft serve. He was 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in) tall, weighed 67 kg (148 lb) and was ironically nicknamed "Muscles" by his fellow-players because of his lack of them. He was, however, fast, agile, and tireless, with a deadly volley and his sliced backhand was his best and strongest shot.
Child: He played his first tournament when he was 9 and lost to the eventual winner. At age 11, Rosewall won the Metropolitan Hard-court Championships for under 14 and in 1949 at age 14 he became the junior champion at the Australian Hard-court Championships in Sydney, the youngest player to win an Australian title. The rest is history.
Arena: Ken has received many honours over the years. His name is instantly recognisable by the centre court at Sydney’s Olympic Tennis Centre, which is named Ken Rosewall Arena in his honour.
Accolades: In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1971, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and in the Australia Day Honours of 1979, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). Rosewall was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1980 and in 1985 he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
He is an Australian living treasure.