Jaroslav Drobny

JAROSLAV DROBNY (CZECHOSLOVAKIA / BOHEMIA-MORAVIA / "STATELESS" / EGYPT / GREAT BRITAIN)

Born: 12/10/1921 Died: 14/9/2001

French Open 1951,1952

Wimbledon 1954

Jaroslav Drobny is the only man to have competed under four nationalities. He had an excellent swinging left handed serve and a good forehand and was a favourite with the Wimbledon crowds. He persisted for many years before he finally won his first Grand Slam title, just a few months before his 30th birthday. Born and bred in Czechoslovakia, Drobny made his Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon in 1938 aged 16. The following year the area of Czechoslovakia where he lived temporarily gained independence so he played under Bohemia-Moravia. After spending much of the War in Czechoslovakia under Nazi occupation, Drobny established himself as one of the top post war players. Drobny was also a fine ice hockey player and was part of the Czech team that took the world championships in 1946-7. Drobny injured his eye while playing an ice hockey game and this affected his vision. Thereafter he always wore dark glasses. At the 1946 French Open Drobny led by two sets to love in the final against Marcel Bernard before losing in five sets. At Wimbledon he beat Jack Kramer in five sets in the fourth round before losing to third seed Geoff Brown in the semis. At the 1947 US Open he lost to Kramer in the semis. At the French Open in 1948 Drobny beat Patty from two sets to one down in the semis before losing to Parker in four sets in the final. At the US Open he lost to Pancho Gonzales in the semis. At Wimbledon 1949 Drobny beat Patty in five sets in the third round and Bromwich in the semis before losing to Ted Schroeder in five sets in the final. Drobny had been considering defecting for some time. In those days anyone thinking of fleeing to the west from Czechoslovakia had to do so in secret, or they risked being shot. Drobny went to Switzerland and obtained a temporary six-month Swiss visa. The Czech authorities were furious and as a result no Czech tennis players were allowed to travel to the West for five years. Drobny was considered a traitor. After a U.S. passport didn't materialise, Drobny was invited by the L.T.A.A. to play down in Australia. He lost early at the 1950 Australian championships but was given Australian papers and looked all set to gain Australian nationality. Then Drobny played in the Egyptian Championships. King Farouk was keen for him to play for them. During his trip Drobny was given his Egyptian passport, one of the fastest changes of nationalities on record. Despite representing his new nation proudly, Drobny spent little time in Egypt. He soon settled in England with his English wife. At the 1950 French Open Drobny lost in five sets to Patty in the final. At Wimbledon he beat Ken McGregor in the fourth round and Gar Mulloy in the quarters before losing to Frank Sedgman in the semis having led two sets to love. In the 1951 French Open Drobny beat Sedgman in straight sets in the semis and Eric Sturgess in straight sets in the final to take his first Grand Slam title. Defending his title the following year Drobny beat McGregor in four sets in the semis and Sedgman in four sets in the final. At Wimbledon he beat Lew Hoad in the fourth round, McGregor from two sets to one down in the quarters and Herbie Flam in five sets in the semis before losing to Sedgman in four sets in the final. Drobny failed to make it a hat trick of French titles when Vic Seixas beat him in the semis in 1953. At Wimbledon he beat Patty 12-10 in the fifth set in a thrilling third round match and Sven Davidson in the quarters before losing to Kurt Nielsen in the semis. At Wimbledon in 1954 Drobny beat Hoad in straight sets in the quarters, Patty in four sets in the semis and Ken Rosewall in four sets in the final to take his third Grand Slam title at the age of 32. Defending his title the following year, Drobny lost in the quarters to Tony Trabert. At Wimbledon in 1960 Drobny, who had been living in Britain for many years, finally gained British nationality. He entered his last Grand Slam event at the French Open in 1965, where he lost in the opening round to Sergio Palmieri. He played seniors tennis for many years. In 2000 78 year old Drobny attended the Champions Parade at Wimbledon. He died the following year.

GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE

HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: M.Anderson 0-1, M.Bernard 0-1, J.Bromwich 1-0, A.Cooper 0-1, S.Davidson 1-0, R.Emerson 0-1, B.Falkenburg 1-0, P.Gonzales 0-1, L.Hoad 2-0, J.Kramer 1-1, A.Larsen 0-2, R.Laver 1-0, K.McGregor 3-1, F.Parker 0-1, B.Patty 4-2, M.Rose 1-0, K.Rosewall 1-0, D.Savitt 1-0, T.Schroeder 0-1, F.Sedgman 2-2, P.Segura 1-0, V.Seixas 2-1, T.Trabert 2-1, G.von Cramm 1-0

Jaroslav Drobny's Grand Slam record

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