Born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1981, Lleyton Hewitt became his country's top-ranked junior tennis player before turning professional in 1998. Known for his scrappy playing style, he won singles titles at the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, and became the youngest men's player to earn the No. 1 ranking. Hewitt also led Australia to Davis Cup victories in 1999 and 2003.
Early Years and Amateur Career
Lleyton Glynn Hewitt was born on February 24, 1981, in Adelaide, South Australia. His father, Glynn, is a former Australian Rules Football player, and his mother, Cherilyn, is a former professional netballer turned physical education teacher.
Hewitt learned the basics of tennis at an early age, along with younger sister Jaslyn, but he devoted equal time to playing Australian Rules Football while growing up. After deciding to focus on tennis, he claimed the national grass court and hard court 18-under division titles in 1996 to become the No. 1-ranked junior in Australia. The following year, he earned a spot in the Australian Open field just before his 16th birthday, making him the youngest qualifier in tournament history.
Professional Tennis Success
In 1998, Hewitt defeated American star Andre Agassi in the semifinals of the Adelaide International before upending countryman Jason Stoltenberg in the final. The win gave Hewitt his first ATP Tour victory, and made him the lowest-ranked player (No. 550) to notch a Tour championship.
The precocious teenager claimed his second title at Delray Beach, Florida, in 1999, but his biggest thrill that year came when he helped Australia win the Davis Cup. Hewitt went on to become Australia’s most decorated Davis Cup player, returning to the finals in 2000 and 2001 before earning a second championship with his countrymen in 2003.
In 2000, the 19-year-old teamed with Max Mirnyi of Belarus at the U.S. Open to become the youngest Grand Slam doubles winner in the Open era. He also firmly established himself as a top singles player by winning five ATP titles that year.
The 2001 season marked the crowning point of Hewitt's career. He outgunned tennis legend Pete Sampras at the U.S. Open to win his first Grand Slam singles championship, and won five other titles to become the youngest men's player to earn the No. 1 ranking.
Many were surprised by Hewitt's success; at 5'11" and 170 pounds, he lacked the huge serve and powerful shots that had become a staple of the men's game. However, the scrappy Australian demonstrated a knack for wearing down opponents, punctuating winning rallies with first pumps and screams of "Come on!" He won five more singles titles in 2002, including his second Grand Slam with a victory over David Nalbandian at Wimbledon.
Hewitt reached two more Grand Slam finals, and his loss to Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open proved especially heartbreaking. He reached the semifinals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open that year, but gradually his standing among the world's top players began to dissipate, as his all-out efforts led to hip and knee injuries.
Hewitt experienced a late-career revival in 2014. He opened the year by defeating the great Roger Federer at the Brisbane International for his first title since 2010, and that summer he triumphed in both the singles and doubles draws at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island.
In early 2015, Hewitt announced his plans to retire after playing in the 2016 Australian Open, though he said he would remain involved in the sport by taking over as the Australian Davis Cup captain.
Outside of tennis, Hewitt remains a big fan of Australian Rules Football and also enjoys golf. He has been involved with several charitable causes, including the Special Olympics.
In 2005, the tennis star married actress Rebecca Cartwright, who won the inaugural season of Australia's Dancing with the Stars in 2004. They live in Nassau, Bahamas, with their three children.
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!