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Rod Laver

Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph

Rod Laver MBE (b. 1938), tennis champion, is the only player in the history of the game to have twice won the Grand Slam. Born in Rockhampton, Laver left school to focus on tennis and as a teenager was coached by Charlie Hollis and later by Davis Cup captain Harry Hopman, who gave him the nickname ‘Rocket’. A slight, ginger-haired lefthander, Laver made his first trip overseas in 1956 and won the US Junior Championship at seventeen. In 1959, he made it into all three finals at Wimbledon, winning the mixed doubles title. He scored his first Wimbledon singles crown in 1961 and the following year became only the second player ever to claim a Grand Slam – that is, winning the French, Wimbledon, US and Australian singles titles in the same year. Having then joined the professional circuit, Laver was ineligible for the big four tournaments until the commencement of the Open era in 1968, when he became the Wimbledon singles victor for the third time. He took out the Grand Slam again in 1969. Laver played Davis Cup for Australia every year from 1958 to 1962 and again in 1973, when the competition was opened to professionals for the first time. The world’s number one ranked player for seven consecutive years (from 1964 to 1970), Laver is universally considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He retired in 1979 with thirty-nine career titles and a winning record of roughly eighty per cent. Made an Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1970, Laver was inducted into the International and Australian Tennis Halls of Fame in 1981 and 1993 respectively and in 2000 the centre court at Melbourne Park was named in his honour.

Ern McQuillan (b. 1926) started work as a press photographer in the 1940s and has worked for newspapers and magazines such as the Women’s Weekly, the Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Telegraph and the Bulletin. This photograph of Rod Laver is one of twenty by McQuillan in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2003

Accession number: 2003.116

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan

Rod Laver AC

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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