'Unthinkable and cruel': Tennis rocked by death of 23-year-old prodigy

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Carolina Lewis was a college tennis player and wanted to be a sports journalist. Image: Carolina Lewis/Instagram

The tennis world has been rocked by the death of 23-year-old Kiwi rising star Carolina Lewis.

Carolina - the niece of former Wimbledon finalist Chris Lewis - died last week in the United States.

She was visiting Washington DC when she died suddenly, according to multiple reports.

Chris said Carolina's death was "one of life's unthinkable and cruellest moments.”

"Carolina, may your beautiful soul Rest In Peace forever, and may your wonderful and loving family find some peace on this earth now that you have left us," Chris said, according to the NZ Herald.

"Carolina, we all love you. Thank you for the special times we've shared, the wonderful and precious memories you've given us, and for the love we all have in our hearts for you — a love that will hold true and strong for the rest of our lives. You will always be with us."

Chris Lewis in action in the 1983 Wimbledon final. (Photo by Getty Images)

Sister’s emotional tribute

The 23-year-old played division one tennis at Kansas State University.

Sister Jade - also a promising tennis player - said Carolina had dreams of becoming a sports journalist and recently worked at the US Open.

"Carolina was loved by so many and made an impact in everyone's life. She was an exceptional daughter, sister, and friend,” Jade said.

"She was the light to everyone's day, and there was never a moment without smiles and laughter when we were with her. Everyone who knew her in her short 23 years of life will always cherish the memories we made with her.”

Carolina comes from a proud tennis family.

Chris Lewis played in the Wimbledon final in 1983, losing to American legend John McEnroe.

Carolina's father David played in the Davis Cup for New Zealand and captained the country’s Fed Cup team.

While their other brother Mark coached German great Michael Stich to the Wimbledon title in 1991.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family.