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Sports Then and Now



Looking Back: Roscoe Tanner, Tennis Bad Boy 25

Posted on August 09, 2009 by JA Allen
Roscoe Tanner won the 1977 Australian Open and was a finalist at Wimbledon in 1979.

Roscoe Tanner won the 1977 Australian Open and was a finalist at Wimbledon in 1979.

Blond, beautiful, athletic—filled with untapped promise, Roscoe Tanner should be among our heroes in tennis.  Instead he sits atop a rare list of tennis gone-bad boys.

Tanner remains one of the finest tennis players of the 1970s. In 1977, he won the Australian Open and in 1979 played Bjorn Borg to a trauma-inducing final at Wimbledon, extending him to five sets before finally falling to the mystique and iron will of the ice man.

The significance of that match goes beyond the intensity of its level of competition. It was the first live broadcast of Breakfast at Wimbledon, now a tradition to tennis loving fans in the United States.

NBC had prayed for John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors to meet Borg in the finals. Instead, they got Roscoe Tanner, who played the match of his life. We owe the continuation of the early morning live broadcast to him for making it memorable.

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