Born on July 9, 1950, Adriano Panatta was a professional Italian tennis player who is best remembered for winning the 1976 French Open.
Known as one of the most talented Italian tennis player of his era, Panatta was the golden boy of Italian tennis in the 1970s. He was born in Rome and his father worked as the caretaker of the Tennis Club Parioli. Panatta learned to play tennis in the club’s courts. He turned professional in1969, making his debut in 1970 prior to enjoying a career in the juniors before making the leap to the pros. Panatta was especially known for his powerful serves and volleys, which had a lethal combination of power, touch and agile speed.
Early wins at the start of his career include victories at Bournemouth in 1973 and Kitzbuhel in 1975. He also won in Stockholm in 1974 and, reached the greatest win in his career in 1976, when he won the French Open against Harold Solomon in the final. It was also in 1976 that he played for the Italian Davis Cup team which eventually won its first ever Davis Cup title.
Another of Panatta’s greatest accomplishments was his defeat of Björn Borg, first in the fourth round of the French Open in 1973 and the quarterfinals of the tournament in 1976. He defeated Jimmy Connors and Vitas Gerulaitis during the WTC tournament in Houston. He also reached the quarterfinals at the1979 Wimbledon.
Panatta retired from professional tennis in 1983. He served as Captain of the Davis Cup team after his retirement as well as Tournament Director of the Rome Masters. Aside from tennis, Panatta is also an avid powerboat racer.