Jean Borotra CQS Sportsmanship Award

This award is made periodically to a player who has shown throughout his or her playing career the outstanding standard of sportsmanship commensurate with the objects of the International Clubs. 

The relevant objective of the ICs is to “develop, encourage and maintain the highest standards of sportsmanship and understanding among players of all nations and among young players in particular.”

2005 winner Pat Rafter

2005 winner Pat Rafter

Citation by FRANK SEDGMAN 

The International Club’s Jean Borotra Sportsmanship award is presented from time to time to an outstanding individual whose contribution to our sport transcends the mere collection of titles. Such a man is Pat Rafter who will be remembered as one of the world’s great serve-and-volley experts, almost the last of a dying breed. 

The two US Opens he won in the 1990s and the two Wimbledon finals he graced at the start of the next decade were the peaks of a ten year career as a professional that brought him 11 singles and 10 doubles titles altogether, plus a world No. 1 ranking in 1999. Despite valiant service for his country in the Davis Cup, in which his 21 wins in 18 ties helped Australia to reach the final on three occasions, illness and injury denied Pat the thrill of ever being on the winning team. 

Nevertheless his chivalrous attitude on court won the hearts of tennis fans everywhere - we all remember his “Sorry Mate!” whenever the ball toss on serve went awry - and we all admired the generous award of a point to an opponent in Adelaide in 1997, a gesture that cost him the match. 

Over the years there has been a host of international awards. In 1997, the year of his first US Open title, Pat received the first of four ATP Sportsmanship Awards - named after a man Pat himself had always admired, Sweden’s Stefan Edberg. 

That same year Pat was also named ATP’s Most Improved Player and he was also awarded the Diploma of Honour by the International Committee for Fair Play, an organisation in whose foundation Jean Borotra had played a leading part. 

Whether Pat was quite as proud of the other award he received in 1997 I’m not so sure. But when the editors of People Magazine in America included Pat among “The Ten Sexiest Men in the World” they were only expressing what millions of female fans around the world had always thought - especially Pat’s most devoted fan, his lovely wife Lara (and it’s so nice that Lara is with us today to see Pat receiving this IC Award). 

Always a humble man, Pat was especially proud to be one of the athletes selected to carry the Olympic torch on its way past Sydney Opera House during the build up to the Games in 2000 and prouder still that he was selected as the Australian of the Year two years later. 

But the real reason that Pat is here today is the extent to which he has committed his life to helping others. After his first US Open win he donated $300,000 of his prize money to the Brisbane Mater Hospital and after the second he gave a similar sum to the Starlight Foundation for Terminall Ill Children. 

It was the prelude to the launch, in 1999, of his own Pat Rafter Cherish the Children Foundation which is run by his mother Jocelyn and his sister Louise. In 2001 Pat even agreed to cut off his trademark pony-tail as part of a fundraising campaign that over the years has contributed millions of dollars to help alleviate suffering among children. 

Perhaps his concern for others was prompted by his own physical problems. Who will ever forget the agony of that second Wimbledon final when, nursing the painful shoulder that had experienced the surgeon’s knife in 1999 and would finally end his career, he came within two points of beating Goran Ivanisevic for the title that Pete Sampras had denied him a year earlier. 

It was typical of Pat that, in his greatest moment of disappointment , he said to Goran “Well done mate, you deserved it”. 

This was just one example of the sort of man Pat is. Growing up in Mount Isa, the third youngest of nine children he was always conscious of the values that are part of family life. As he said during his induction as Australian of the Year. “Mum said to me: ‘Treat everyone the same, it doesn't matter what you do or who you are. You come into the world with nothing and you'll die with nothing, so treat everyone the same.’ She taught me that it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you compete and conduct yourself that matters”. 

From his father, Jim, he learned other lessons. “Dad taught me to give it my best, and if I lost, to accept it, and to be nice about it. Believe me that came in handy on more than a few occasions. You can imagine the lesson I learned when he dragged me off the court by the scruff of my neck because I was acting up. But he made the point about sportsmanship. Acting like a spoilt brat doesn't turn a loss into a win”. 

How true! And how nice to be able to say that the International Club’s Jean Borotra Sportsmanship Award goes to a great bloke, a great tennis player and a great Australian. Ladies and Gentlemen - Pat Rafter. 

JB 28 Jan 2006 

The IC Sportsmanship Award for 2005 was awarded to Patrick Rafter of Australia
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