A native Queenslander, Roy Emerson is rated second only to Rod Laver as the greatest tennis player ever produced by Queensland. A champion schoolboy sprinter, he brought great speed and agility to the tennis court. A righthanded serve and volley specialist, his dedication to training and fitness served him well throughout his career.
Emerson won the Wimbledon singles championship twice in a row, in 1964 and 1965 and was a hot favourite to become the first player since Fred Perry to win Wimbledon three consecutive times. An untimely shoulder injury, suffered when he crashed into an umpire’s stand during his fourth round victory, cost him his chance for further Wimbledon success in 1966.
Early in his career, the teenage champions Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall overshadowed him, but when both turned professional, Emerson moved easily into the highest levels of the amateur game.
Apart from his two Wimbledon singles wins, Emerson shared in Wimbledon doubles wins in 1959, 1961 and 1971, won the Australian singles title in 1961 and each year from 1963 to 1967. Between 1961 and 1967, he won a male record six Australian singles titles, with the last five being won consecutively. He won the US singles championship in 1961 and 1964 and was winner of the French singles championship in 1963 and 1967.
His doubles triumphs included the Australian title in 1962, 1966 and 1969, the US title in 1959, 1960, 1965 and 1966 and the French title every year from 1960 to 1965. His most acclaimed partnership was with Neale Fraser, who he played alongside to win the Wimbledon doubles title in 1959 and 1961, as well as the US doubles title in 1959 and 1960.
Emerson and Fraser also paired up for the Davis Cup doubles victories of 1959, 1960 and 1961. Emerson was a member of the Australian Davis Cup team from 1959 to 1967, winning 36 of his 40 singles matches. He played in eight winning Davis Cup teams – a record run of success.
Emerson turned professional in 1968, just before the beginning of open tennis. From 1959, he was ranked in tennis’ world top ten nine straight times, including the number one ranking in 1964 and 1965. In 1978, he played alongside his son, Antony, with the pair winning the US Hard Court Father-and-Son title.
A vibrant figure in Australia’s golden tennis age, whose career so successfully bridged the transition of tennis from amateur to open, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1982 and was Inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1986.
Honours & Awards
Awarded AC at the 2019 Australia Day
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1982
Inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1986