|Country (sports)||United States|
|Residence||Kiawah Island, South Carolina|
|Born||October 15, 1951|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Turned pro||1972 (amateur tour from 1969)|
|Plays||Left-handed (one-handed backhand)|
|Career record||592–293 (66.9%)|
|Highest ranking||No. 4 (July 30, 1979)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||W (1977Jan)|
|French Open||4R (1978)|
|US Open||SF (1974, 1979)|
|Tour Finals||RR (1976, 1977, 1979, 1981)|
|WCT Finals||SF (1981)|
|Highest ranking||No. 4 (August 23, 1977)|
Leonard Roscoe Tanner (born October 15, 1951) is a retired American tennis player, who turned professional in 1972 and reached a career-high singles ranking of world No. 4 on July 30, 1979.
Tanner was famous for his big left-handed serve, which was clocked at 153 mph at Palm Springs in 1978 during the final against Raúl Ramírez. He is also known for winning the men's singles title at the first of two Australian Open tournaments held in 1977. Tanner won the tournament held in January, Vitas Gerulaitis won the December tournament. Tanner reached the Wimbledon final in 1979, losing to Björn Borg in five sets.
After his retirement, Tanner received media attention in the 2000s for legal problems that included stretches of imprisonment, arrests for missing child support payments, allegations of financial misdeeds, and bankruptcy.
Leonard Roscoe Tanner III hailed from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, graduated from Baylor School in Chattanooga, and with teammate Sandy Mayer helped to lead Stanford University's rise to national prominence in collegiate tennis. Tanner played number one singles, with Mayer playing number two. In 1972, Tanner and Mayer won the NCAA doubles championship, and the Stanford team finished second in the NCAA tournament, behind Trinity (TX). The team also featured Chico Hagey, Rick Fisher, Jim Delaney, Gery Groslimond, Chip Fisher, Paul Sidone, and Tim Noonan.
Tanner defeated Guillermo Vilas in three straight sets in the 1977 Australian Open (January) final, to win his first and only grand slam title. Tanner lost a five set match to Björn Borg in the 1979 Wimbledon final, which was the first Wimbledon final to be broadcast live in the United States as part of NBC's Breakfast at Wimbledon. Tanner avenged this loss to Borg by beating him in four sets in the US Open quarterfinals two months later, a match where Tanner's 140 mph serve brought the net down during the fourth set. Tanner lost to Vitas Gerulaitis in the semifinals. Tanner described his 1979 US Open win over Borg and loss to Gerulaitis in his autobiography as "the highest of my highs and the lowest of my lows on a tennis court within two days of each other".
Tanner's unorthodox but very strong left-handed serve was tossed very low and struck with a lunge involving the whole body, earning him the nickname "The Rocket". His booming 153 mph serve was the fastest ever recorded in tournament competition from February 1978 until Andy Roddick posted a 155 mph serve in a Davis Cup semifinal in September 2004 against Vladimir Voltchkov.
He won the Davis Cup in 1981 playing with John McEnroe, Eliot Teltscher and Peter Fleming on a team captained by Arthur Ashe that defeated Argentina in the final, played at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati.
Grand Slam singles performance timeline
|Australian Open1||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||W||1R||A||A||A||2R||A||3R||A||1 / 4||9–3|
|French Open||A||A||A||A||A||1R||3R||A||A||4R||A||A||A||A||A||A||0 / 3||5–3|
|Wimbledon||A||A||A||3R||A||4R||SF||SF||1R||4R||F||QF||2R||4R||QF||A||0 / 11||36–11|
|US Open||1R||2R||3R||QF||3R||SF||3R||4R||4R||4R||SF||QF||QF||2R||3R||1R||0 / 16||40–16|
|Win–Loss||0–1||0–1||2–1||6–2||2–1||8–3||9–3||8–2||9–3||9–3||11–2||8–2||6–3||4–2||8–3||0–1||1 / 34||90–33|
1The Australian Open was played twice in 1977, in January and December.
Grand Slam finals
Singles: 2 (1 titles, 1 runner-up)
|Win||1977||Australian Open (Jan.)||Grass||Guillermo Vilas||6–3, 6–3, 6–3|
|Loss||1979||Wimbledon||Grass||Björn Borg||7–6(7–4), 1–6, 6–3, 3–6, 4–6|
Singles (16 titles, 26 runner-ups)
|Loss||1.||1972||Albany, U.S.||Hard (i)||Jimmy Connors||2–6, 6–7|
|Loss||2.||1972||Los Angeles, U.S.||Hard||Stan Smith||4–6, 4–6|
|Loss||3.||1973||Milan WCT, Italy||Carpet (i)||Marty Riessen||6–7, 0–6, 6–7|
|Loss||4.||1974||Palm Desert WCT, U.S.||Hard||Rod Laver||4–6, 2–6|
|Win||1.||1974||Denver WCT, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Arthur Ashe||6–2, 6–4|
|Loss||5.||1974||Columbus, U.S.||Hard||Raúl Ramírez||6–3, 6–7, 4–6|
|Loss||6.||1974||Maui, U.S.||Hard||John Newcombe||6–7, 6–7|
|Win||2.||1974||Christchurch, New Zealand||Carpet (i)||Ray Ruffels||6–4, 6–2|
|Loss||7.||1975||St. Petersburg WCT, U.S.||Hard||Raúl Ramírez||0–6, 6–1, 2–6|
|Loss||8.||1975||St. Louis WCT, U.S.||Clay||Vitas Gerulaitis||6–2, 2–6, 3–6|
|Loss||9.||1975||Charlotte, U.S.||Clay||Raúl Ramírez||6–3, 4–6, 3–6|
|Win||3.||1975||Las Vegas WCT, U.S.||Hard||Ross Case||5–7, 7–5, 7–6|
|Win||4.||1975||Chicago, U.S.||Carpet (i)||John Alexander||6–1, 6–7, 7–6|
|Loss||10.||1975||Los Angeles, U.S.||Hard||Arthur Ashe||6–3, 5–7, 3–6|
|Loss||11.||1976||Birmingham, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Jimmy Connors||4–6, 6–3, 1–6|
|Loss||12.||1976||Rancho Mirage, U.S.||Hard||Jimmy Connors||4–6, 4–6|
|Win||5.||1976||Cincinnati, U.S.||Clay||Eddie Dibbs||7–6, 6–3|
|Win||6.||1976||Columbus, U.S.||Hard||Stan Smith||6–4, 7–6|
|Loss||13.||1976||South Orange, U.S.||Clay||Ilie Năstase||4–6, 2–6|
|Win||7.||1976||San Francisco, U.S.||Hard (i)||Brian Gottfried||4–6, 7–5, 6–1|
|Win||8.||1976||Tokyo Outdoor, Japan||Clay||Corrado Barazzutti||6–3, 6–2|
|Win||9.||1976||Beckenham*, U.K||Grass||Jimmy Connors||6–3, 6–4|
|Loss||14.||1976||Wembley, U.K.||Carpet (i)||Jimmy Connors||6–3, 6–7, 4–6|
|Win||10.||1977 (Jan.)||Australian Open, Melbourne||Grass||Guillermo Vilas||6–3, 6–3, 6–3|
|Loss||15.||1977||South Orange, U.S.||Clay||Guillermo Vilas||4–6, 1–6|
|Loss||16.||1977||Hilton Head, U.S.||Clay||Björn Borg||4–6, 5–7|
|Loss||17.||1977||WCT Challenge Cup, Las Vegas||Carpet (i)||Jimmy Connors||2–6, 6–5, 6–3, 2–6, 5–6|
|Win||11.||1977||Sydney Outdoor, Australia||Grass||Brian Teacher||6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 6–7, 6–4|
|Loss||18.||1978||Philadelphia, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Jimmy Connors||2–6, 4–6, 3–6|
|Win||12.||1978||Rancho Mirage, U.S.||Hard||Raúl Ramírez||6–1, 7–6|
|Win||13.||1978||New Orleans, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Victor Amaya||6–3, 7–5|
|Win||14.||1979||Rancho Mirage, U.S.||Hard||Brian Gottfried||6–4, 6–2|
|Win||15.||1979||Washington Indoor, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Brian Gottfried||6–4, 6–4|
|Loss||19.||1979||New Orleans, U.S.||Carpet (i)||John McEnroe||4–6, 2–6|
|Loss||20.||1979||Wimbledon, U.K.||Grass||Björn Borg||7–6, 1–6, 6–3, 3–6, 4–6|
|Loss||21.||1979||Cincinnati, U.S.||Hard||Peter Fleming||4–6, 2–6|
|Loss||22.||1980||Richmond WCT, U.S.||Carpet (i)||John McEnroe||1–6, 2–6|
|Win||16.||1981||Philadelphia, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Wojtek Fibak||6–2, 7–6, 7–5|
|Loss||23.||1981||Memphis, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Gene Mayer||2–6, 4–6|
|Loss||24.||1981||Bristol, U.K.||Grass||Mark Edmondson||3–6, 7–5, 4–6|
|Loss||25.||1981||Sydney Indoor, Australia||Hard (i)||John McEnroe||4–6, 5–7, 2–6|
|Loss||26.||1982||La Costa WCT, U.S.||Hard||Johan Kriek||0–6, 6–4, 0–6, 4–6|
*Not recognized by ATP.
Doubles titles (13 titles, 17 runner-ups)
|Loss||1.||1971||Cincinnati, U.S.||Clay||Sandy Mayer|| Stan Smith
Erik van Dillen
|Loss||2.||1971||Columbus, U.S.||Hard||Jimmy Connors|| Jim McManus
|6–4, 5–7, 2–6|
|Loss||3.||1973||London WCT, U.K.||Hard (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Tom Okker
|Loss||4.||1973||Washington WCT, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Tom Okker
|6–4, 6–7, 2–6|
|Loss||5.||1973||Houston WCT, U.S.||Clay||Arthur Ashe|| Tom Okker
|Win||1.||1973||Denver WCT, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Tom Okker
|3–6, 6–3, 7–6|
|Loss||6.||1973||Paris Indoor, France||Hard (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Juan Gisbert Sr.
|2–6, 6–4, 5–7|
|Loss||7.||1974||Bologna Indoor, Italy||Carpet (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Ove Bengtson
|4–6, 7–5, 6–4, 6–7, 2–6|
|Win||2.||1974||Barcelona WCT, Spain||Carpet (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Tom Edlefsen
|Loss||8.||1974||Houston, U.S.||Clay||Arthur Ashe|| Colin Dibley
|6–4, 6–7, 4–6|
|Win||3.||1974||Denver WCT, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Arthur Ashe|| Mark Cox
|Win||4.||1974||Maui, U.S.||Hard||Dick Stockton|| Owen Davidson
|Win||5.||1974||Christchurch, New Zealand||Carpet (i)||Ismail El Shafei|| Syd Ball
|Win||6.||1974||Jakarta, Indonesia||Hard||Ismail El Shafei|| Jürgen Fassbender
|Loss||9.||1975||St. Petersburg WCT, U.S.||Hard||Charlie Pasarell|| Brian Gottfried
|Loss||10.||1975||La Costa WCT, U.S.||Hard||Charlie Pasarell|| Brian Gottfried
|Win||7.||1975||Nottingham, U.K.||Grass||Charlie Pasarell|| Tom Okker
|Loss||11.||1975||Stockholm, Sweden||Hard (i)||Charlie Pasarell|| Bob Hewitt
|6–3, 3–6, 4–6|
|Loss||12.||1976||Memphis WCT, U.S.||Carpet (i)||Marty Riessen|| Anand Amritraj
|Win||8.||1976||La Costa WCT, U.S.||Hard||Marty Riessen|| Peter Fleming
|Win||9.||1976||Johannesburg WCT, South Africa||Hard||Marty Riessen|| Frew McMillan
|Win||10.||1976||San Francisco, U.S.||Hard (i)||Dick Stockton|| Brian Gottfried
|Loss||13.||1976||Maui, U.S.||Hard||Dick Stockton|| Raymond Moore
|7–6, 3–6, 4–6|
|Win||11.||1976||Perth, Australia||Hard (i)||Dick Stockton|| Bob Carmichael
Ismail El Shafei
|6–7, 6–1, 6–2|
|Win||12.||1976||Wembley, U.K.||Carpet (i)||Stan Smith|| Wojtek Fibak
|Loss||14.||1977||Palm Springs, U.S.||Hard||Marty Riessen|| Bob Hewitt
|Loss||15.||1977||Cincinnati, U.S.||Hard||Bob Hewitt|| John Alexander
|Loss||16.||1977||Hong Kong||Hard||Marty Riessen|| Syd Ball
|Win||13.||1978||Palm Springs, U.S.||Hard||Raymond Moore|| Bob Hewitt
|Loss||17.||1980||Manchester, U.K.||Grass||Dennis Ralston|| John Sadri
Tanner has been married three times, first to Nancy, then Charlotte, and last to Margaret. He has five children, Omega Anne Romano, Tamara Tanner, Lauren Tanner, Anne Monique, and Lacey Tanner.
Tanner has an extensive record of conflicts with the law. He was first arrested in 1997 for failure to pay child support. He was arrested again in June 2003 on a fugitive warrant on charges related to passing a bad check and to further nonpayment of child support. He pleaded guilty and received an initial sentence of probation. Tanner violated his probation and served one year in prison in Florida, but was then jailed for contempt of court in California.
In 2008, Tanner was again arrested for writing a bad check in Knoxville, Tennessee, but it was settled out of court. After being evicted from his home, Tanner was arrested in January 2012 for writing another bad check. In March 2013, Tanner was arrested in Florida for writing a bad check and grand theft, and in 2014, he served 10 days for driving with a suspended license. In 2015, Tanner was arrested for failure to appear in court on a previous warrant.
- "The Big Interview Roscoe Tanner". The Times. London. December 5, 2004.
- Yorkey, Mike; Roscoe Tanner (2005). Double Fault: My Rise And Fall, And My Road Back. Liguori, Mo: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-779-0.
- L. Jon Wertheim (November 29, 2004). "Outside Looking In". Sports Illustrated.
- Wimbledon '99: Secrets of an express delivery, by Ronald Atkin, The Independent, June 20, 1999 Retrieved December 9, 2009.
- Wigmore, Barry (August 8, 2003). "How the rocket crashed to earth". The Times. UK. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "Baylor School: Leonard Roscoe Tanner, Jr. '69". baylorschool.org.
- "Powering up". St. Petersburg Times. August 27, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
- "Serving up a tennis treat..." The Press. October 24, 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
- Greg Garber (June 24, 2006). "Jailed Tanner's losses: Game, set, match...family". sports.espn.go.com. ESPN.
- "Roscoe Tanner in Trouble With Law, Again". WTVC. May 29, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2009.[dead link]
- Tanner accused of not returning vehicles after check bounced, Associated Press, May 28, 2008. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
- "Theft Charges Dismissed Against Roscoe Tanner After Restitution Made". The Chattanoogan. August 14, 2008. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
- "Leonard Roscoe Tanner Mugshot - Leonard Roscoe Tanner Arrest - Indian River County, FL".
- "Inmate Booking Details". Indian River County Sheriff's Office.
- "Tennis Camp with Roscoe Tanner". Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- "Roscoe Tanner tennis training". Retrieved July 25, 2018.