Australian tennis great and Class of 2001 Hall of Famer Mervyn Rose passed away on July 23 at age 87.
Rose left his mark on the tennis world in a variety of ways - as a major champion and top player, a transformative coach, and a big, bold personality.
Rose won the 1954 Australian Championships and 1958 French Championships singles titles, and also won four major doubles titles and one mixed doubles title. He was a key member of the Australian Davis Cup team during the nation's 1950's dominance, and was part of the 1951 and 1957 championship teams.
Rose was an aggressive left hander. He possessed slick volleying techniques - skills that later made him a sought after coach. Between 1951 and 1958, Rose was ranked in the World Top 10 seven times, reaching No. 3 in 1958.
Among all his great tennis successes, it was the 1958 Italian Open final that Rose often cited as one of his best matches and memories, perhaps offering a glimpse into his fiery personality. In the 5-setter, Rose overcame Italy's best player Nicola Pietrangeli. In an interview reflecting on his career, Rose stated:
“Of all the grand slams and tournaments I have won in my career, nothing stands out more than the 1958 Italian Open,” said Rose. “I beat the hometown favorite (5-7, 8-6, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2) and got chased off the court with a barrage of items thrown from the crowd. I knew how popular he was and I really wanted to beat him on his home court. I outplayed him all match and the crowd didn’t like to see their champion defeated, so they pelted bottles and cans at me. I was in such a hurry to get off the court, I never got my hands on the trophy.”
After his playing days, Rose made a smooth transition into coaching, working with an impressive array of Hall of Famers, including Billie Jean King and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
Of her coach, King stated, "Every day he would help me. He would change my serve, my forehand. He changed my game, my tactics. I can't tell you how he changed my life. He taught me how to be No. 1."
Rose was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001, and into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002. He was honored with the Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 for service to tennis.
Mervyn Rose (second from left), pictured at his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001, along with friend Vic Seixas, fellow 2001 inductee Ivan Lendl, and Hall of Famers Bud Collins and Tony Trabert.