One of the great names of his generation, Australian Lleyton Hewitt was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last Saturday night. A member of the ‘Class of 2021’, he had his induction postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the age of 41, the owner of 30 titles, two of them Grand Slam titles, and former world number one was thrilled with the honor.
“The Hall of Fame seemed like something that was so far away from me being a part of,” Hewitt said during the induction ceremony. “It was never something I thought I would achieve as a player, I always looked at it as just for those who were my idols as a child and the absolute legends of the sport,” the Australian added.
Hewitt became the youngest number 1 in the history of the rankings, reaching the top at the age of just 20 in 2001. In addition to the two Slam titles, ‘Rusty also finished two seasons as number 1, won two ATP Finals trophies and led Australia to two Davis Cup titles. Before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic rose to the top of the sport, he held the top spot for 80 weeks, the 10th longest mark in history.
“I feel fortunate to be able to play in different generations. I was able to be on the same court as my heroes, of guys I looked up to, like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, and then compete against three of the greatest tennis players our sport has ever seen: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic,” pointed out the Australian, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Australian legends John Newcombe and Tony Roche.
“The first time I met Lleyton was at a charity event in Adelaide. He must have been 12 or 13 years old. I was even impressed with his game at that age. Actually, I was more impressed really is with his mullet haircut. All the kids in Adelaide seemed to have these big mullet haircuts. But on Lleyton you could see he had something special,” Roche said.
The evening’s honoree was even more emotional when he mentioned his family and friends who were in the crowd, especially his wife, Bec, and three children Mia, Cruz and Ava. “It was such a special moment. I loved traveling as a little family around the world and being on this adventure together,” said Hewitt