Arthur was an American No. 1 male tennis player best remembered for his victory at the U.S. Championships in 1950 and for his eccentricities. He won the "Times" national sports award for the outstanding tennis player of 1950.
A singularly whimsical American champion, the left-handed Art “Tappy” Larsen endured some frightening army experiences during World War II. Not very serious about tennis before the war, he became a formidable and versatile player when he returned home, winning not only the U.S. National Championships but also recording triumphs at the U.S. Indoor, U.S. Hard Court and U.S. Clay Court Championships. Admired for his finesse and his tenacity, Larsen was an American original.
Jack Kramer, tennis player and long-time promoter, stated in his 1979 autobiography that "Larsen was fascinating to watch. He had concentrated on tennis as mental therapy after serving long stretches in the front lines during (World War II).
He was called Tappy because he went around touching everything for good luck, and sometimes he would chat with an imaginary bird that sat on his shoulder. This was good theatre, but it could never have made Larsen a candidate for a professional tour."
A member of the Olympic Club in San Francisco, he had previously attended the University of San Francisco, where he was a member of the 1949 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship team. He was 5 feet 10 inches and 150 pounds and was also known for his partying before, and during, his tournament appearances. It was frequently written that Larsen would arrive for an important match directly from an all-night party with no benefit of sleep.
He was the first man to win the American amateur championships on the four court surfaces that existed at the time, grass, clay, hardcourt, and indoor. Since then, only Tony Trabert has equalled his feat.
Larsen's tennis career ended abruptly in November 1956, after a motor scooter accident in Castro Valley, California. He was partially paralyzed and lost sight in one eye. He was the Number 8 ranked American amateur at the time.
Larsen died on December 7, 2012 at the age of 87.
Larsen was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969
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