Mervyn Rose, 7-time grand slam cham­pion in ten­nis, dies at 87

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Af­ter­ward, Harry Hop­man, Aus­tralia’s long­time Davis Cup cap­tain and coach, praised Rose’s vic­tory as a break­through.

“At the be­gin­ning of the cham­pi­onship,” he said, “Mervyn was an out­sider among the top men, but he came through and showed great fight to win. This win of Mervyn’s strength­ens Aus­tralia’s hand for the fu­ture.”

Rose played for Hop­man on six Davis Cup teams from 1950-1957 and was ranked No. 3 in the world in 1958, his high­est rank­ing. He was in­ducted into the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame in New­port, Rhode Is­land, in 2001.

Rose’s vic­to­ries at the Aus­tralian Open were not his first ma­jor ti­tles. He had won dou­bles at the U.S. Na­tional Cham­pi­onships (now the U.S. Open) in 1952 with Vic Seixas, an Amer­i­can, and in 1953 with Hartwig.

Rose and Hartwig also won the dou­bles ti­tle at Wim­ble­don in 1954. Rose would win two more ti­tles: mixed dou­bles with Dar­lene Hard at Wim­ble­don in 1957, de­feat­ing Althea Gib­son and Neale Fraser, and sin­gles at the French Cham­pi­onships (also known as the French Open) over Luis Ay­ala of Chile in 1958.

But to Rose, noth­ing stood out more than his five-set vic­tory over Nicola Pi­etrangeli in the fi­nal of the 1958 Ital­ian Open.

“I knew how pop­u­lar he was, and I re­ally wanted to beat him on his home court,” he told The Coffs Coast Ad­vo­cate, an Aus­tralian news­pa­per, in 2012. “I out­played him all match, and the crowd didn’t like to see their cham­pion de­feated, so they pelted bot­tles and cans at me.”

In his haste to leave the court, he added, “I never got my hands on the tro­phy.”

At the time, the ten­nis world was split be­tween am­a­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als. Only am­a­teurs were al­lowed to com­pete in the four Grand Slam cham­pi­onships, while pros played in tour­na­ments con­trolled by pro­mot­ers like Jack Kramer, a for­mer player, who was eye­ing top-ranked play­ers like Rose.

By 1958, Rose was locked in a year­long bat­tle with the Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia over travel ex­penses he had re­ceived for play­ing at var­i­ous tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing Wim­ble­don.

The as­so­ci­a­tion sus­pended Rose’s am­a­teur sta­tus in Au­gust 1958, and later that year, he threat­ened to ex­pose other Aus­tralian play­ers who, he said, had done the same thing he had.

“I’ve got plenty of dope on our Davis Cup play­ers,” Rose was quoted by The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald as say­ing. “I hate mak­ing threats, but on the other hand, I’ve prob­a­bly been soft too long.”

He vowed that there would be a “a few blush­ing faces” among the am­a­teurs at a com­ing tour­na­ment.

But he cooled off and did not, as he told The Her­ald, “blow the gaff” on fel­low play­ers. In­stead, he joined the pro tour or­ga­nized by Kramer, who promised Rose that he would make at least $20,000 (about $169,000 in 2017 dol­lars) play­ing in 10 tour­na­ments and 75 ex­hi­bi­tion matches in 1959. He would not play in an­other Grand Slam for an­other decade, af­ter the start of the Open era in 1968.

Mervyn Gor­don Rose was born on Jan. 23, 1930, in Coffs Har­bour on Aus­tralia’s east coast, to Gor­don and Nelly Rose. His fa­ther was a la­borer, his mother a home­maker. He grad­u­ated from Colling­wood Tech­ni­cal Col­lege.

Con­sid­ered a free-spir­ited per­son­al­ity, he once smashed three rack­ets dur­ing a match and won a fi­nal in the rain while play­ing in his socks.

He is sur­vived by his wife, the for­mer Robyn Geran; two daugh­ters, De­bra Bouland and Yvonne Rose; seven grand­chil­dren; three great-grand­chil­dren; and a brother, Max­well Rose. His mar­riage to Co­ral Stu­ber ended in di­vorce.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.