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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rod Laver

Over the weekend, I watched the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament on television. During one of the matches, the camera focused on Rod Laver who was sitting in the stands as a spectator. I was so impressed by that. Yeah, he received an award during the tournament, and he lives nearby (the tournament is played in Palm Springs, CA), but at heart, he's a fan of a game he hasn't played professionally in nearly 30 years.

Laver is probably the greatest tennis player who has ever picked up a racket. He won two Grand Slams (winning all four majors in the same year) in 1962 and 1969 and no other player in the open era has even done it once--not even Roger Federer. I never got to see Laver play. He retired in 1979 and that was about the same year I started watching tennis, but I've always had a respect for what he did on the court. Seeing him as a fan of the game makes me admire him even more. 

The television announcers for the Pacific Life Open said that Laver respects modern players and that's obvious. He's 69 now and it would be easy to hold a grudge against modern players who earn far more than he did. He won just $1.5 million in his career--slightly more than what players receive for winning the US Open just once in our era. But holding grudges apparently isn't his style. Seems like he'd rather just enjoy the sport for what it has become, which in my opinion, is a great attitude to have about life.


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