Originally Posted by krosero
What you may have heard is that Slam-counting was not a big deal back then, which is true. Slam-counting really became a big deal when Sampras started chasing Emerson for that particular record. Today it's the single biggest metric for measuring a player's achievements. It's practically a badge or tag: here's 6-Slam winner Djokovic, here's 17-Slam winner Federer.
But in Laver's time the holy grail of tennis was the Grand Slam -- defined in those days as sweeping the 4 Slam events in one calendar year. That was regarded as the single biggest achievement in tennis, and the players who achieved were regarded as legendary figures of the sport: Budge, Connolly, Laver, Court.
Laver's second Grand Slam gave him 11 Slam victories but that was not regarded as the important part of what he did -- if it was regarded at all. I can hardly recall any source of the time period defining his achievement that way or referring to the total Slam count as an important record. Bud Collins did mention it, I think because he was big on stats and records. But even he regarded Laver's Grand Slam of '69 as the far greater achievement. Emerson's mark of 12 total Slams was very much regarded as a secondary record.
But that's it. There was next to nothing about the total number of Slam events he'd won.
Yes, there is a quotation from Laver somewhere that he once asked Emerson how many majors he had won, Emmo said he didn't even know.
Emmo had never counted them all.