Lleyton Hewitt has expressed his relief that a bronze bust unveiled in his honour at Melbourne Park actually looks like him, however fans aren't convinced. The Aussie legend was officially inducted into the Tennis Australia Hall of Fame this week, and he's also been immortalised in bronze.
Hewitt had the honour of unveiling the bust during a ceremony on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open on Wednesday night. Speaking on Thursday morning, he expressed relief that he'd seemingly avoided a similar situation to Cristiano Ronaldo, with a bust of the football superstar looking nothing like him.
“I reckon they did a pretty good job. I love the hat backwards,” Hewitt said on Channel 9. “I didn’t see it until I actually unveiled it last night...that was a weird feeling, because you’ve seen some of them in the past gone wrong.
“They did ask for a lot of photos to be taken last year, and I questioned that. I said I’d actually prefer it in my younger days when I was 20 or 21. But I’m very happy with it.”
As he mentioned, Hewitt's bust features the iconic hat he wore backwards when he won the US Open title in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002. He also won the year-end ATP Finals in 2001, becoming the youngest World No.1 in tennis history.
But not all tennis fans were as happy with the likeness as Hewitt. One person wrote on social media: “What a shame the bust looks nothing like him.” Another commented: “It doesn’t look anything like him.” While a third said: “Why’ve they made Lleyton a 17th century pirate? This looks nothing like him. Congrats, I guess?”
Hewitt's wife Bec and two of their three kids (Cruz and Ava) were on hand to celebrate his honour, as were his parents Glynn and Cherilyn, and sister Jaslyn. “This is an unbelievable honour for me to think back where my journey started,” he said.
“As a 15-year-old, coming here and qualifying for the Australian Open for the first time, I always dreamt to just be able to play once here. To end up playing 20 years in a row and now to get this incredible honour and be alongside all the greats that I looked up to in Australian tennis over so many years, a lot of those guys were like big brothers or even father figures to me out there.
“I owe so much to the Australian tennis community. I’d like to thank my family as well – Bec and the kids for all their support over the years. My parents, my sister (and) all my friends that are here tonight to enjoy this moment.”
Should we add it to the list of bronze sculptures that just don’t work? It must be something about the material!
— Callum MacKenzie (@Callumnonumbers) January 24, 2024
Lleyton Hewitt's son Cruz makes debut at Australian Open
Last week, Lleyton and Bec watched on as Cruz made his Australian Open debut in the junior boys competition. The 15-year-old took on Alexander Razeghi on Court 3 - the same court where Lleyton played his first match during his main draw debut in 1997.
Cruz is the 14th-ranked player in the world among 2008-born boys, and went on to lose 6-2 6-3 to sixth seed Razeghi. However he gained some valuable experience in front of a big crowd.
"I'm just unbelievably proud, to be honest," Lleyton said on Channel 9 before the match. "It's just a really special moment, my first ever main draw match at the Australian Open was actually out on Show Court 3 as well.
"He's been around the traps, but he's worked extremely hard to get this opportunity. He is playing well, but he is still very young. This is all a learning experience and that's what the junior event is all about. He's been fortunate enough to get a wildcard and hopefully, he goes out there and has a lot of fun."
Lleyton revealed that Cruz will now work to get his ranking up by playing ITF and futures events. The goal is for Cruz to be able to qualify for the junior events at Wimbledon and the US Open later this year.
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