Wednesday morning in a skyscraper soaring high above Melbourne Park, one of tennis’ most well known champions was celebrated with the book launch of Muscles, the authorised biography of Ken Rosewall.
The book, written by Richard Norton with a forward by John Barrett, tells the tale of Rosewall’s rise to becoming one of Australia’s most revered athletes, winning eight major tournaments while also detailing the period in tennis that may have been richest for Australia, when players like Rosewall, Rod Laver, Lew Hoad and John Newcombe dominated the game.
“This book tells the story of a period of tennis that is often forgot,” said host John Fitzgerald, a former Australian Davis Cup captain. “Ken’s story is transcendent.”
Rosewall, 78, was joined at the launch by Frank Sedgman and Neale Frasier, two Australian greats that bookended his time in the game.
Author Naughton paid homage to Rosewall, who he said was rather tentative to take on the project when he approached him about it in early 2011.
“Initially he was a little guarded,” Naughton said. “He wasn’t so interested in a book about himself, but more of a book that captured the flavour of pro tennis at that time.”
The book’s title is an ode to the ironic nickname his rivals gave to the 170cm-tall Sydney native, whose short stature didn’t hold him back from a remarkable career that spanned 25 years and gained him 18 majors in total, nine doubles and one mixed to go along with his singles triumph.
The book launch was the second of its kind in two weeks, following an event in Sydney less than a week ago that featured Newcombe, Tony Roche and media personality Alan Jones.
It was Sedgman who shared a light story of the Australians being in Los Angeles for a tournament in the 1960s when they noticed that Debbie Reynolds, the Hollywood actress, took a liking to Rosewall.
“She had quite the whistle, you could hear her on court,” Sedgman recalled. “But Wilma’s was much better. If we needed a cab, it was Wilma who hailed it.”
Wilma, of course, is Ken’s wife.
“There will never be another champion like Ken,” Fitzgerald concluded. “He reached major title finals over the span of 20 years. That won’t ever be done again.”
Rosewall, who made four Wimbledon finals, lost in the 1974 championship match to Jimmy Connors at the age of 39, some 18 years his junior.
To obtain a copy of Muscles, go to http://www.slatterymedia.com/store/viewItem/muscles