By definition, the word "character" can describe a person’s peculiarities and eccentricities, which in many aspects aptly summarizes Ion Ţiriac. The man known as Count Dracula (because he was born in Transylvania, Romania), played the part to perfection. From his bushy Fu Manchu moustache to a piercing stare, Ţiriac was an intriguing and unique “character” in tennis, melding a substantial career as a player, coach, and businessman. In early December 2014, Romania-Insider.com reported that Ţiriac had amassed a personal fortune of $2 billion, making him the richest former sportsman in the world, according to Celebrity NetWorth. Not bad for a doubles specialist who made a few million dollars on tour during the 1960s and 1970s, but whose style on and off the court led to celebrity appeal.
In the late 1980s Miller Lite was flooding the television airways and employing athletes for its “Taste Great, Less Filling” beer pitch. One 1987 commercial pitted baseball’s Bob Uecker with Ţiriac. While Uecker praises Ţiriac's sense of humor, the Romanian sits stone-faced and unamused. In 1992, Arthur Ashe told People Magazine, "We were at a Basque restaurant in Paris," Ashe recalled, “and Ţiri ate a wine glass. He ate glass. I was there. And he didn't bleed."
On tour, Ţiriac played 11 years, teaming with fellow Romanian Ilie Năstase to win the 1970 French Open Doubles Championship over the American duo of Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell 6–2, 6–4, 6–3. Over his career, Ţiriac amassed 23 titles, and all but one came in doubles, most with Năstase or Argentinian Guillermo Vilas. He earned one singles title, the 1970 Bavarian International Tennis Championships in Munich, Germany, besting Yugoslavian Nikola Pilić 2–6, 9–7, 6–3, 6–4. On two occasions, 1967 and 1972, Ţiriac advanced to Wimbledon’s fourth round. In 1968, he reached the quarterfinals of the French Open singles, snatching two sets from Rod Laver in a five-set loss. Recalling the 1968 season, one of his best on tour, Ţiriac told the Tennis Channel, “We always say that clay is for tennis, grass is for cows, and hard courts are for cars. We used to play 99 percent of the time on clay. I never had any talent, but I was a good athlete with good legs and a little bit of a head for the game. And for that reason I could almost beat anybody or lose to anybody.”
Ţiriac was a gifted athlete who played tennis and ice hockey. He was a member of the 1964 Romanian Olympic ice hockey team that competed in Innsbruck, Austria. He was a staple of Romania's Davis Cup Team, competing for 15 years, and helping the squad advance to the finals three times.
As a sought-after coach and manager, Ţiriac mentored some of the game’s all-time best, including, Năstase, Guillermo Villas, Henri Leconte, Boris Becker, Mary Joe Fernández, Anke Huber, and Goran Ivanišević. Under Ţiriac’s tutelage, Becker won five major titles.
Following his tennis career, Ţiriac turned his attention to business endeavors, serving as President of Ţiriac Holdings Lt. In 2007, Ţiriac became the first Romanian to appear on the Forbes List of billionaires in the world.
Ţiriac was a successful promoter and tournament director for numerous events including the ATP World Tour's season-ending Masters Grand Prix, and two of the largest Masters 1000 events – the Italian Open and the Madrid Masters. He is still an active leader and owner of the Mutua Madrid Open. Under his leadership the tournament has grown immensely, and is one of the most attended annual events in Spain. In addition, he continues to promote tennis in his home country of Romania and is the owner/promoter of the BRD Năstase Ţiriac Trophy, an ATP World Tour 250 event held annually in Bucharest.
Class of 2013
Contributions to Tennis
Grand Slam Results
Winner of the 1970 French Open Men’s Doubles title
Open Era Titles
Open Era Record
Member of the Romanian ice hockey team at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympic Games
Member of the Romanian Davis Cup Team 1959-1963, 1966-1972, 1974-1975, 1977
Overall Record: 70-39
Singles Record: 40-28
Doubles Record: 30-11
French Open: QF 1968
French Open: W 1970
Wimbledon: SF 1970
US Open: QF 1971, 1975