Vijay was once the number one Asian player in the world, he played in the Davis Cup team for 20 years and competed at Wimbledon for 17 years. He is now a successful businessman and over the years has carved out collaborations with many major organisations including ESPN, News Corp, MTV, SONY and Walt Disney. As a promoter and entrepreneur he brought the first ever ATP Tour World Series tournament to India.
Vijay 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.
Amritraj was a natural grass-court player who liked to chip-and-charge and serve-and-volley.
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.
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 Martín Jaite of Argentina was the highlight of India’s run to the final in 1987.
He compiled a career singles win-loss record 384-296, winning 16 singles titles to go along with 13 in doubles.
Amritaj also had a brief acting career. His most notable appearance is probably as the MI6 agent Vijay in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy. He also appeared in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as a starship captain.
He was also a regular character in the NBC TV series The Last Precinct and the Yakov Smirnoff comedy What a Country, as well as a guest star on various television shows such as Hart to Hart. 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.
Vijay Amritraj is also a noted philanthropist, on 9 February 2001 he was appointed UN Messenger of Peace. He has been a committed advocate to people in need, devoting his time to raising awareness on the issues of drugs and HIV/AIDS and in raising funds to fight the spread of AIDS worldwide.
Amritraj still plays occasionally and has entered the finals of the 2008 Wimbledon Sr. Invitation Gentlemen’s Doubles, partnering Gene Mayer. They were seeded number 1.
Vijay has had a truly remarkable career and his speaking engagements are always an entertaining and informative affair.