Rod Laver

In 1962, Rod Laver became the second man to capture the Grand Slam -- winning the Australian, French, Wimbledon and U.S. titles in a single year. At the time, only amateur players were allowed to compete in those Grand Slam tournaments. The "open era" of tennis, which allowed professionals to play those events, began in 1968. Laver decided to turn pro in late 1962, meaning he missed five years of participating in the major tournaments. In 1969, Laver secured his second Grand Slam, and no man has done it since. In this excerpt from Rod Laver, An Autobiography, the man known as the Rocket recalls the way 1962 unfolded for him.

My results all year qualified me to be the top seed at the United States championships. The persistent offers from the pro ranks were pleasant, if unsettling, distractions from my preparation to win the US tournament and the Grand Slam. Truth to tell, I was certainly keen to win the Slam, though far from obsessed about it. "Philosophical" best describes my state of mind when considering the prospect. If I achieved it, great. If not, the sun would still rise tomorrow.

Rod Laver