Patrick Rafter once auctioned his ponytail to help children

Patrick Rafter has never been just another player. The Australian player was as famous for wearing Bermuda shorts in interviews as for his serves and volleys at a time when players would rarely move up to the net. He was also known for his weird hairstyles; Kafelnikov had his pudding basin cut; Agassi had his bald head; Rafter had his iconic ponytail, which he cut once, in 2001, to auction it on eBay. It sold for about AU$2,000, and Rafter donated them to child aid associations. It was nothing new to him; he has always shared his money and fame. In 1997, two weeks after he won the US Open, he started a Washington Post interview by joking and pointing at his stomach: “Look at that beer belly!” He had properly celebrated his first Grand Slam victory. “I have five days of beer in me.”

He did not say what he would do with his $650,000 prize money. As it happened, he donated half of it to a children’s hospital in Brisbane before doing the same a year later when he won his second US Open straight. He had chosen not to talk about it in the media; his mother told it in the Australian press in 1999. “Pat supports charities and causes he really cares about,” said Pat’s brother Steve to Reuters. “I just did not want people to know about it.” Patrick Rafter really was not just another player.