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Lleyton Hewitt

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Bio Full name is Lleyton Glynn Hewitt...Played Australian Rules Football until age 13, then decided to pursue tennis career...In brief junior ranks, ranked as No. 1 Aussie in 18-under division in 1996 and captured Australian National Grasscourts 18s that year...Also Australian National Hardcourts 18s champion...Enjoys golf and Australian Rules Football (Adelaide Crows fan)...His father, Glynn, is a former Aussie Rules Football player and his mother, Cherilyn, was a physical education teacher...Has one younger sister, Jaslyn (born Feb. 23, 1983), who was No. 1 junior in Australia in 2000, and won her first Challenger title in Canberra in 2004.

Good friend of fellow Aussie golfers Greg Norman and Aaron Baddeley...Supporter of many children’s charitable foundations in Australia - the Starlight Foundation and the McGuinisses-McDermott Cancer Foundation, among others...In August 2002, made Special Olympics his primary charitable cause by becoming a global ambassador for the organization with the primary mission of helping Special Olympics double their international membership by 2005 via clinics and public appearances as he travels the world; launched Special Olympics Tennis Program in Shanghai during 2002 Masters Cup; took part in Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin in 2003; and invites Special Olympics athletes to tennis tournaments, commercial shoots, and other personal appearances around the world.

The Australia Post launched a commemorative Lleyton Hewitt stamp in January 2002 prior to the Australian Open and in 2004 featured a Lleyton Hewitt Limited Edition post card during the Australian Open...Named Young Australian of the Year in Jan. 2003 as part of annual Australia Day honors...Vogue/GQ (Australia) Sportsman of the Year in 2003...Also named Australia’s male athlete of the year in 2002 at the Australian Sports Awards...Voted Most Popular South Australian athlete by the public for three consecutive years (2001-03)...In December 2003, Caddied for Greg Norman at Australian PGA event...Wife, Bec Cartwright (married July 21, 2005 in Sydney) is an Aussie actress...Daughters, Mia Rebecca (born Nov. 29, 2005), Ava Sydney (born Oct. 19, 2010), Son, Cruz (born Dec. 11, 2008)...

Lleyton Glynn Hewitt is a screaming, fist-pumping, chest-thumping firebrand on court. “C’mon!” he yells at himself, finding inspiration in his obsession with the movie “Rocky” about an underdog boxer. At 5-foot-11, he is a solid 170 pounds. The leanness is deceptive, for he grew up playing breakneck Aussie Rules Football and hurls his body with abandon at shots others would let pass. Such intensity made him, at 20 in 2001, the youngest men’s No. 1 ever, 69 years after Wimbledon champ Ellsworth Vines (USA) was at the top, a slightly older 21 in 1932.

He is also the youngest since ATP Rankings began in 1973. Hewitt has won two major championship singles titles—the 2001 U.S. Open over Pete Sampras (USA), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-1, and 2002 Wimbledon over David Nalbandian (ARG), 6-1, 6-3, 6-2—as well as the US Open doubles in 2000 with Max Mirnyi (BLR), as of 2008. He has also won 25 other ATP singles titles since turning pro in 1998 at age 16. He was again No. 1 for 2002.

The Australian’s passing shots and especially, his return of serve, are strengths. Hewitt himself is enamoured with his topspin lob. Critics of Hewitt—and he has many—suggest he lacks the tools to become a dominant player, missing a booming serve, a killer return or a crushing groundstroke. All he does is win. Pat Rafter, his compatriot, called Hewitt a “little mongrel” for his refusal to be beaten. He has also been called an “undersized, overcharged kid,” a “racquet-wielding Energizer Bunny,” and “Bart Simpson with a Yonex.” For his part, Hewitt has called Australian fans “stupid”; called a chair umpire a “spastic”; made an insensitive remark about a black line judge at the US Open; dismissed coaches in controversial fashion; and had a long public spat with the ATP after being fined $103,000 for refusing to do a television interview.

Hewitt was born in Adelaide on Feb. 24, 1981. His father Glynn played Australian Rules Football for Richmond and his mother Cherilyn was a professional netballer. Neither sport is for the fainthearted. Their son learned tennis early, and they took him to his first Australian Open as a spectator at age five. Hewitt qualified for the Australian Open in January, 1997, a month before his 16th birthday, the youngest qualifier in the 108-year-old tournament.

He debuted that month on the ATP Rankings at No. 797. Four years later, at 20 years, nine months, he was No. 1, undercutting Jimmy Connors (USA), No. 1 on the ATP computer in 1974 at 22 years, three months in 1974. Vines, at 21, was three months older than Lleyton.

His precocious talent was displayed at age 16 when he captured his hometown title at Adelaide over Jason Stoltenberg (AUS), 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in 1998. The five men he beat (including Andre Agassi in the semis) had a combined total of 1,108 career victories; Hewitt had none until then. He became the lowest-ranked player, at No. 550, to win in tour history. In 1999, Hewitt won his first clay-court title (Delray Beach), his only victory in four finals.

He made his Davis Cup debut that July against the United States, launching the successful drive to the Cup with a leadoff win over Todd Martin, 6-4, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 6-0. Russia’s Yevgeny Kafelnikov promised to administer a “tennis lesson” to the brash upstart in the semi-final.

Instead, the Russian was humbled in straight sets. Lleyton led his nation to three more finals, losing to Spain (2000) and France (2001), defeating Spain in 2003 as he set the pace, downing Juan Carlos Ferrero, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2.

Hewitt won four titles in 2000, the first teenager to win that many since Pete Sampras a decade earlier. He got his first major championship title, a doubles at the U.S., youngest male, at 19 years, 6 months, to win a major doubles in the Open era. At Flushing Meadow the following year, he defeated No. 7 seed Kafelnikov in the semis, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, and Sampras in the final, 7-6 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1, to claim his first singles major championship.

Hewitt won five other tournaments in 2001, including the year-end Masters, over Sebastien Grosjean (FRA), 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, appropriately in Sydney, and was at the top of the class. Some thought him a caretaker in the top spot until a more skilled player arrived to succeed the likes of Sampras and Agassi. But not only did he hold the ranking, he added a second major, Wimbledon, defeating David Nalbandian ARG, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and defended his Masters title in Shanghai over Ferrero, 7-5, 7-5, 2-6, 2-6, 6-4. He dropped only two sets at Wimbledon to become the first Australian in 15 years to win on Centre Court. Pat Cash was the last. His dream of being the first Aussie to rule his country since Mark Edmondson in 1976 was squashed in the 2005 final, a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 triumph for Russian Marat Safin.

Bio Courtesy Bud Collins, written 2008.

Tournament AO RG W US Win-Loss
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