Laver: one of tennis's greats

DON WRIGHT
Last updated 11:00 14/03/2014

BOOK REVIEW: Rod Laver: A Memoir
By Larry Writer with Rod Laver (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Who would dare question tennis icon Roger Federer's assessment of the greatest players of the sport in his time?

Federer's plumping for Laver as "the greatest champion our sport has known" will be widely accepted wherever the game is played.

Federer, after all, has been dubbed the greatest player and game's traditionalist of the modern era.

History will record that Laver was the first to complete the globally accepted Grand Slam of Australian, French, Wimbledon and US titles in the one year on two occasions (1962 and 1969).

Australians, forever protective of their own, acknowledge that the Rockhampton-born Laver is still rated one of their greatest-ever sporting champions and a dominant force in world tennis for almost two decades.

The book is not restricted to Laver but also embraces other great Australians of the court, including Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Neale Fraser, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle in a remarkable 1960s and 1970s era of the game's giants.

Laver goes on record as saying he was humbled by two greats in Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. He claimed he inspired their careers.

Rod Laver: A Memoir is as much an enthralling human interest story as it is a snapshot of the stars the Australian idol locked horns with on the world's major courts.

After suffering a stroke, the genius of racket and ball had to learn to think, speak, read, eat and walk again and his wife Mary was with him through it all.

"After I recovered, she fell ill with breast cancer, then neuropathy and died in 2012. I had become her primary caregiver before her demise. Love is a two- way street," he said.

Any sports fan's library would be incomplete without this gripping account of a champion who is to Australians what rugby's Sir Colin Meads and Richie McCaw and athletics standout Peter Snell are to New Zealanders.

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