Art Larsen

Arthur David "Art" or "Tappy" Larsen (April 17, 1925 – December 7, 2012) was an American No. 1 male tennis player best remembered for his victory at the U.S. Championships in 1950 and for his eccentricities.[2] He won the "Times" national sports award for the outstanding tennis player of 1950.[3] Larsen was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969.[4]

Art Larsen
Art Larsen in Japan 1951 Scan10003.JPG
Larsen in 1951
Full nameArthur David Larsen
Country (sports) United States
Born(1925-04-17)April 17, 1925
Hayward, California, United States
DiedDecember 7, 2012(2012-12-07) (aged 87)
San Leandro, California, United States
Turned pro1948 (amateur tour)
PlaysLeft-handed (1-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF1969 (member page)
Highest rankingNo. 3 (1950, John Olliff)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenSF (1951)
French OpenF (1954)
WimbledonQF (1950, 1951, 1953)
US OpenW (1950)
Medal record
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1955 Mexico City Men's Singles


Jack Kramer, tennis player and long-time promoter, stated in his 1979 autobiography that "Larsen was fascinating to watch. He had concentrated on tennis as mental therapy after serving long stretches in the front lines during (World War II). He was called Tappy because he went around touching everything for good luck,[5] and sometimes he would chat with an imaginary bird that sat on his shoulder. This was good theatre, but it could never have made Larsen a candidate for a professional tour."[6]

John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph ranked Larsen as World No. 3 in 1950.[1]

A member of the Olympic Club in San Francisco, he had previously attended the University of San Francisco, where he was a member of the 1949 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship team. He was 5 feet 10 inches and 150 pounds and was also known for his partying before, and during, his tournament appearances. It was frequently written that Larsen would arrive for an important match directly from an all-night party with no benefit of sleep.[7]

He was the first man to win the American amateur championships on the four court surfaces that existed at the time, grass, clay, hardcourt, and indoor. Since then, only Tony Trabert has equalled his feat.

Larsen's tennis career ended abruptly in November 1956, after a motor scooter accident in Castro Valley, California. He was partially paralyzed and lost sight in one eye. He was the Number 8 ranked American amateur at the time.

Larsen died on December 7, 2012 at the age of 87.[8]

Grand Slam finalsEdit

Singles (1 title, 1 runner-up)Edit

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1950 U.S. National Championships Grass   Herbie Flam 6–3, 4–6, 5–7, 6–4, 6–3
Loss 1954 French Championships Clay   Tony Trabert 4–6, 5–7, 1–6

Grand Slam tournament performance timelineEdit

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)


Tournament 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 SR
Grand Slam tournaments
Australian Championships A A A SF A A A A A 0 / 1
French Championships A A QF A A A F 4R 4R 0 / 4
Wimbledon A A QF QF 1R QF 3R 4R 4R 0 / 7
U.S. National Championships 4R QF W SF 4R 4R QF 4R 3R 1 / 9
Strike Rate 0 / 1 0 / 1 1 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 3 1 / 21


  1. ^ a b United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 426.
  2. ^ Newman, Paul (December 24, 2012). "Art Larsen: Tennis player whose prodigious talents were matched by his eccentricities". London: The Independent. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  3. ^ "Larsen is happier - Dec 12th, 1950". The Sydney Morning Herald. March 2, 2013.
  4. ^ "Art Larsen". International Tennis Hall of Fame.
  5. ^ "Strange Habits of Highly Successful Tennis Players" by Christopher Clarey, June 21, 2008 in The New York Times.
  6. ^ The Game, My 40 Years in Tennis (1979), Jack Kramer with Frank Deford, page 92
  7. ^ Watkins, Les (2010). "What a load of racquets", Fairfax NZ News, April 20, 2010.
  8. ^ Weber, Bruce (December 25, 2012). "Art Larsen, Quirky Tennis Champion, Dies at 87". The New York Times.


  • The Game, My 40 Years in Tennis (1979), Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)

External linksEdit