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Today's Birthday August 9

AAP logoAAP 8/08/2016

Today's Birthday, August 9: Rod Laver, former Australian tennis player, (1938 - )

Rod Laver is an Australian tennis great, having held the world number one ranking for seven years straight and being the only player to twice claim the Grand Slam.

Born on August 9, 1938 in Rockhampton, Queensland, Laver was 17 when he won his first international title.

The talented sportsman was victorious in the US Junior Championship in 1956, a year before becoming Australia's junior champion.

Laver's breakthrough performance came in 1959, when he made all three finals at Wimbledon as an unseeded player.

He scored his first singles crown at the prestigious tournament two years later.

It was just the start for the young Australian, who - as an amateur - went on to win all four Grand Slam singles titles in 1962 for the first time.

He turned professional that year and established himself among some of the world's greatest players.

A string of professional title wins helped Laver secure the world number one ranking in 1965, pre-empting his incredible feat of winning another four Grand Slam tournaments in 1969.

He was the only player to win all the major titles twice, and still holds the record for the most games played in a single year.

Laver has also represented Australia in five successful Davis Cup campaigns - four of them as an amateur.

Despite achieving much success on the Grand Prix tennis circuit in the early 1970s, Laver only played in five Grand Slam tournaments in two seasons.

Nevertheless, he went on to win a record 45 open titles after turning 30 and ahead of his retirement in 1979.

Not only is Laver a Member of the Order of the British Empire, he is also an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and a National Living Treasure - a title given to a person when they accomplish an outstanding achievement, becoming a source of national pride.

Laver's name adorns the centre court at Melbourne Park, the site of the Australian Open.

Earlier this year Laver was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his service to tennis as a player and as a role model for younger sportspeople.

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