I think it is interesting that Senator Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Presidential campaign is accusing rival Senator Barack Obama with plagiarism for using lines in his speeches from his friend Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
In a tennis equivalent to this issue, should Arthur Ashe get the credit for the quote that is etched in stone and attributed to him at the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden at the USTA / Billie Jean King National Tennis Center? Ashe’s quote says “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” This sounds like the same quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” The very similar quote, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give” is also attributed to Ronald Reagan. Someone once emailed me and had this quote on the signature of their email, but it was attributed to Reagan. I thought, “That is strange. I thought Arthur Ashe said that.” I googled it and found that is was also attributed to Winston Churchill. Whoever gets the “credit” for the quote, I think, is mostly irrelevant, but what is important is that the point of the quote is conveyed, regardless of the messenger.
During the Australian Open last month, I heard the Tennis Channel’s Bill Macatee and Martina Navratilova discussing Roger Federer and his quest to win the most career major singles championships. Bill and Martina also talked about Rod Laver and how many more majors he would have won had there been Open tennis and he would be allowed to play from 1963 to 1967.
A fair point, however, let’s look at another side of the story.
Laver’s 1969 Grand Slam was certainly the most impressive of accomplishments considering tennis was “Open” and all the major championship draws were filled with the best amateurs and pros (i.e. Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Roy Emerson, etc.)
If tennis was “Open” in 1962, would Laver have achieved his sweep of all four majors for his Grand Slam? He would have had to tangle with the likes of Pancho Gonzalez, Rosewall, and Lew Hoad (although Hoad may not have played at a high level due to his back troubles) among others. Would Laver have won his two other pre-1962 majors – the 1960 Australian and the 1961 Wimbledon – had tennis been Open? My view is that it probably would have evened out and Laver would have lost a major or two between 1960 and 1962 and would have picked up a major or two between 1963 and 1969.