Rod Laver earned the nickname Rocket for his powerful tennis shots, and now he has lived up to the billing with his turbo recovery from a stroke suffered last July 27 At the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., last week, the 60-year-old Laver, considered by many the greatest player in tennis history, made his first public appearance since the stroke to give a tennis clinic to 30 inner-city children. It wasn't the first time since his stroke that Laver had picked up a racket, however; he has been working on his game since November. "I'm doing my own therapy on the court," he says. "My right side was the side affected by the stroke, so, being a lefty, I can still get on the court and work pretty hard at my game."
The stroke forced Laver to learn to walk and talk again, yet he worked with occupational, physical and speech therapists for only three weeks and spent just five weeks in the hospital. "The doctors said the fact that I was in shape and not overweight had a lot to do with the recovery," says Laver. "They just don't know why the stroke happened."
Laver says tennis enables him to work on his balance and his strength, neither of which has fully returned. It has also helped him regain sensation in the right side of his body. "It's like having novocaine in your mouth—you feel it there, but it's numb," says Laver of his right side. "It's steadily coming back. My joints are starting to feel like they did in the old days. They hurt a little bit. That's good."
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