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By Tennis Now | Wednesday, February 24, 2021

 
Lleyton Hewitt

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, the trailblazing Original 9 of women's tennis and tennis teacher Dennis Van der Meer will be inducted into the Hall of Fame July 17, 2021.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Lleyton Hewitt received the ultimate birthday present—impending induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Former world No. 1 and two-time major champion Hewitt, the trailblazing Original 9 of women’s professional tennis, and innovative coach and tennis teacher Dennis Van der Meer will be the recipients of the ultimate honor in tennis this year, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Hewitt, who amassed 30 singles titles during his 18-year career on the ATP Tour and was instrumental in two Davis Cup victories for Australia, will be inducted in the Player Category. The announcement arrived today, which happens to be Hewitt's 40th birthday.

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“I am hugely honored to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame," Hewitt said. "When you are competing, you’re so focused on training and your results that week or that year, you don’t really look ahead to something like this. But when that is all compiled up and deemed deserving of becoming a Hall of Famer, well, it’s just the ultimate recognition for a player, and I’m so honored.

“The Hall of Famers are people who I admired so much throughout my career—especially people like Rochey and Newk and Rocket and so many others. They were all motivating factors in my career and to be recognized alongside them in tennis history is an incredible honor.”

In addition to being elected by the Hall of Fame's Official Voting Group of media, historians, and Hall of Famers, Hewitt also came in first place in the Hall of Fame’s Fan Voting, a global vote among a ballot of five candidates which took place late in 2020.

Hewitt wowed in his first year on the ATP Tour, when, in 1998, as a wild card entry into his hometown tournament in Adelaide, he swept through the draw, defeating Andre Agassi in the semifinals and ultimately winning the title. Hewitt entered the tournament ranked world No. 550 and never looked back.

The youngest player to ever claim the No. 1 spot in men’s professional tennis, Hewitt did so at just 20 years of age in 2001, fueled by his victory at the US Open where he defeated Pete Sampras in straight sets. Hewitt won his second major title in 2002, when he was victorious at Wimbledon, and closed out the year in the top spot for the second time in a row. He was also a finalist at the Australian Open in 2005.

Hewitt maintained a ranking in the Top-10 for more than five years and won 30 career singles titles. A fiercely dedicated Davis Cup player for his country, Hewitt twice helped Australia win the Davis Cup – in 1999 when he was 18 years old, and again in 2003. Today, he remains Australia’s record holder for most Davis Cup ties played (43) and most total wins (59-21), and he serves as the team captain.




On September 23, 1970, the Original 9 took a bold action that would forever change the course of tennis history. In a stand against the growing disparity in prize money and playing opportunities for women in professional tennis they signed $1 contracts with World Tennis Magazine publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in a new tournament for women. Eight of the women entered the draw and Rosie Casals claimed that first title. The resounding success of the event led to the creation of the Virginia Slims circuit and paved the way for today’s WTA Tour, where women’s tennis flourishes as the world’s leading global sport for women.

The Original 9 are the first ever group to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as the honor has previously only been presented to individuals. The nine women who comprise the Original 9 are Americans Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, and Australians Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid.

Van der Meer, a Namibian native who later became a U.S. citizen, was a legendary coach of top players and a teaching professional who recognized the need for, and subsequently developed, a standardized manner of teaching tennis in order to effectively grow the sport.


“To know that Dennis will go into the International Hall of Fame this July gives me great joy, Pat Van der Meer, wife of the late Dennis Van der Meer, said. "Dennis would be so honored and happy to be inducted with his great friends in the Original 9. I know he cherished that time in his life and was so proud of what they accomplished.”



Known as a “teacher of teachers”, Van der Meer founded both the Van Der Meer Tennis University and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), a leading tennis industry organization that works to educate, certify, and serve tennis teachers and coaches. Van der Meer will be inducted posthumously, as he passed away in 2019.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome these tennis greats into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Lleyton Hewitt always competed hard until the last ball was hit, and this is very apparent in the Hall of Fame resume he built, which includes a Wimbledon trophy, a US Open trophy, two Davis Cup victories, and being world Number 1,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith. “The Original 9 were true trailblazers in tennis history. It took a lot of courage to do what they did, and we have today’s incredible WTA Tour to thank for it, as well as opportunities for women in so many other sports.

"It is also a pleasure to celebrate Dennis Van der Meer, who was a tremendous coach, teacher, and real visionary for the future of the sport.”

The Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2021 is scheduled to be held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. on Saturday, July 17, 2021. The 2020 ceremony was cancelled due to Covid-19, and therefore the induction ceremony will also honor Class of 2020 inductees Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame will offer a variety of in-person and virtual events and experiences throughout the induction weekend, July 16 – 18, 2021, to ensure that fans across the globe can safely participate in celebrating these legendary players and leaders in the sport.

“As we look ahead to the summer months, we are moving forward with plans for a terrific celebration in Newport to honor not just one, but two inspiring induction classes of Hall of Fame greats," Todd Martin, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame said. "We are planning these events with the health and safety of all guests as the top priority. In addition to the traditional in-person ceremony and celebration, we are developing a variety of virtual programs so fans around the world can easily and safely participate.”

Planned virtual celebrations include access to online question and answer chats with the inductees, a pre-ceremony red carpet show, behind-the-scenes museum tours with the Hall of Famers, and access to view the ceremony itself, among other programs.

In-person and virtual ticket packages are available to purchase now on tennisfame.com/enshrinement.

 

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