“Georges, you’ll walk it: your opponent hasn’t even slept!” Behind the scenes, there was no doubt about the match’s outcome. Once again, the finalist of the 1954 tournament had arrived at the stadium with the creases of a sleepless night etched on his face.
But that did not stop the American left-hander, whose playing style was both brilliant and unpredictable, from thrashing Frenchman Georges Deniau (6-0 6-2 6-2)!
This is just one of a thousand stories that revolve around this incredible player, who owned the fact that he was different: “I may look like a normal guy, but I’m not.”
“What do you want me to say?"
Born in Los Angeles in 1925, Larsen’s legendary story began during the Second World War, when he cheated death on several occasions. When he took up tennis in 1947, it was a whole other man holding his racquet.
An eccentric with a childlike, almost anarchic spirit and a soft spot for women, his mission was to enjoy life to the full. A compulsive smoker, he always had a drink or a cigarette on the go. “What do you want me to say? I never know what to do with my hands!” he liked to joke.
Superstitious to the point of tapping anything within reach, which earned him the nickname “Tappy”, Arthur Larsen was nothing like the typical modern-day sportsman.