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When Rod Laver turned professional in 1962, the Australian tennis championships were left at the mercy of Roy Emerson, who won five successive men's singles titles between 1963 and 1967, bringing his total to a record six triumphs.

In 1968, Emerson, too, forsook his amateur status. Having won 25 Grand Slam titles, including the Wimbledon singles in '64 and '65, the athletic Queenslander was a fine catch for George McCall, then battling with Lamar Hunt for dominance of the American professional scene.

Today, Emerson divides his time between homes in California, Florida and Switzerland, where he has run a six-week summer coaching clinic at Gstaad for 22 years. "That's why I never get back to Wimbledon," he said.

"When I went to the States, I only intended to stay for a couple of years. But opportunities kept coming and the kids got more and more settled.

"We rented a house in Newport Beach, California, where my wife, Joy, and I still live but we now spend six months of the year in Florida at William Island Resort, just south of Fort Lauderdale. "Everything revolves around tennis."

Married for 36 years, he has a son, Anthony, 31, a former professional who now coaches at William Island, and a daughter, 29-year-old Heidi Now 58, Emerson hankers after a return to Australia, where he was raised on a dairy farm with its own tennis courtand won his first tournament aged 11. "I've said that when I'm filthy rich we'll go back, but so far I'm still just filthy."

Jon Culley