Vijay Amritraj ,born December 14, 1953) is an Indian former tennis player and actor.
Amritraj was born in Chennai, India to Maggie Dhairyam and Robert Amritraj. He and his brothers, Anand Amritraj and Ashok Amritraj, were among the first Indians to play in top-flight international tour tennis. In 1976, the brothers (Vijay and Anand) were semi-finalists in the Wimbledon men's doubles.
After playing his first grand prix event in 1970, Amritraj achieved his first significant success in singles in 1973 when he reached the quarter-final stage at two Grand Slam events. At Wimbledon he lost 5-7 in the fifth set to the eventual champion Jan Kodes and later that summer at the U.S. Open lost to tennis great Ken Rosewall after having beaten another legend, Rod Laver, two rounds earlier.
Amritraj repeated his feat at Forest Hills in 1974 when he went out in the last eight again to Rosewall after beating a young Björn Borg in the second round. In the years that followed he reached the latter stages of numerous Grand Prix events but failed to meet with success in the grand slams. It would not be again until 1981 when Amritraj would again proceed to the quarter-finals, going out in five sets to Jimmy Connors. This match typified Amritraj's tennis. He was a natural grass-court player who liked to chip-and-charge, and serve-and-volley. He could compete against the world's best but often would lose longer matches through a lack of stamina. Against Connors he was up two sets but lost the last two convincingly in a 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 2-6 loss. A similar Wimbledon result occurred in 1979 in the 2nd round where he looked set to defeat defending champion Borg, up two sets to one and 4-1 in the 4th set, only to lose 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7, 2-6.
Amritraj was the captain of the Indian Davis Cup for much of the late 1970s and 1980s, helping India reach the finals in 1974 and 1987. It was here that he revelled as a champion and chalked memorable wins against higher ranked players. A do-or-die five set epic over Martin Jaite was the highlight of India's run to the final in 1987. He compiled a career singles win-lose record 384-296, winning 16 singles titles to go along with 13 in doubles. He beat the best, including John McEnroe at his peak in 1984 (in the first round in Cincinnati) and had five career wins over Connors in their 11 matches. He reached his career high ranking in singles of World No. 16 in July, 1980.
Vijay also had a brief acting career, appearing with Roger Moore in the James Bond film, Octopussy as Vijay and in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He has since gone on to become a sports commentator, has been a judge at the Miss Universe pageant, and has developed a successful multimedia business.
Both his son Prakash Amritraj and nephew, Stephen Amritraj are professional tennis players. In 2006, after completing his assignment as a "United Nations Messenger of Peace," Mr. Vijay Amritraj founded "The Vijay Amritraj Foundation." The foundation's mission is to bring hope, help and healing to the defenseless and innocent victims of disease, tragedy and circumstance in India. Driven by a firm belief that "in giving we receive," the foundation pledges to make a real difference for those who are most in need of the helping hand of humanity. After an extraordinarily successful debut in 2006, the Foundation raised enough funds to immediately begin supporting various Charitable Organizations in India. Over the next decade, the Foundation aims to have a meaningful presence in all the states of the Indian Union, and to make a positive difference in the lives of the less fortunate citizens of these states. Today, many noteworthy persons are associated with the Foundation, including World Leaders, Statesmen, Business Leaders, and Philanthropists; among them, George H.W. Bush -Former President of the United States, Mr. Reddy S. Jay Reddy - Chairman & CEO of The CORBISCO Group, Mr. Sashi Tharoor - Former Under Secretary General of the United Nations, and General the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank - Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom during the Blair Administration. The Foundation conducts a highly successful Golf Tournament every year, followed by a gala dinner event in Beverly Hills, California.
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