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Lleyton Hewitt

Retired Professional Tennis Player, Former World #1 and Grand Slam Champion

Retired Professional Tennis Player, Former World #1 and Grand Slam Champion

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Lleyton Hewitt Biography

Lleyton Glynn Hewitt was a screaming, fist-pumping, chest-thumping firebrand on court. “C’mon!” he yelled at himself, finding inspiration in his obsession with the movie “Rocky” about an underdog boxer. At 5-foot-11, he was a solid 170 pounds. The leanness was 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 remains the youngest since ATP Rankings began in 1973. Hewitt 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). He also won 28 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, were his strengths. Hewitt himself was enamoured with his topspin lob. Critics of Hewitt—and he had many—suggested he lacked the tools to become a dominant player, missing a booming serve, a killer return or a crushing groundstroke. All he does was win. Pat Rafter, his compatriot, called Hewitt a “little mongrel” for his refusal to be beaten. He had also been called an “undersized, overcharged kid,” a “racquet-wielding Energizer Bunny,” and “Bart Simpson with a Yonex.” For his part, Hewitt 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.

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  • What topics does Lleyton Hewitt speak about?

    Lleyton Hewitt is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Tennis.
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Lleyton Hewitt is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Lleyton Hewitt for your event is available upon request. Lleyton Hewitt generally travels from Australia and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Kim Clijsters, Novak Djokovic and Pete Sampras. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Lleyton Hewitt for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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