Australian Kenneth ‘Ken’ Rosewall was a force majeure in men’s tennis, amateur and professional, for 25 years in the second half of the twentieth century. A short, slightly-built individual, he was sarcastically nicknamed ‘Muscles’, but was renowned for his agility and speed, which saw him win 18 Grand Slam titles, including eight in men’s singles.
Indeed, Rosewall won the Australian Open four times, in 1953, 1955, 1971 and 1972, the French Open twice, in 1953 and 1968, and the US Open twice, in 1956 and 1970. However, he never won Wimbledon, despite reaching the final on four occasions. On the first occasion, in 1954, he was beaten 11-13, 6-4, 2-6, 7-9 by Jaroslav Drobný and on the second, in 1956, he was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 5-7, 4-6 by his compatriot, and doubles partner, Lew Hoad.
Later in 1956, Rosewall signed a professional contract with promoter Jack Kramer, meaning that he was stripped of membership of the All England Club and forbidden from playing in any of the Grand Slam tournaments. Consequently, he did not play at Wimbledon again until the arrival of the ‘Open Era’ in 1968, when he was beaten in straight sets by compatriot Tony Roche in the fourth round.
Rosewall did reach the men’s singles final at Wimbledon twice more, though; in 1970, he was beaten in five sets by another compatriot, John Newcombe and, in 1974 – 20 years after his first appearance in the final – he was beaten in straight sets by Jimmy Connors who, at 21, was 18 years his junior. Remarkably, later that year, Rosewall also reached the final of the US Open, but was again brushed aside by Connors, who won 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 in under an hour.