'So honoured': Tennis world erupts over Lleyton Hewitt announcement

Lleyton Hewitt, pictured here during Australia's Davis Cup tie against Brazil in 2020.
Lleyton Hewitt looks on during Australia's Davis Cup tie against Brazil in 2020. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Lleyton Hewitt has been voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the Class of 2021.

The Hall of Fame announced on Thursday that Hewitt will be inducted in the United States in July.

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The youngest male player ever to be ranked World No.1, the Australian star won grand slam singles titles at the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002.

In November of 2001 he reached the top of the rankings at the age of just 20 years, 268 days.

Hewitt is also the youngest player to finish as year-end No.1 and helped Australia win the Davis Cup twice.

Lleyton Hewitt, pictured here after winning Wimbledon in 2002.
Lleyton Hewitt celebrates with the trophy after winning Wimbledon in 2002. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

He was a winner of 30 professional tournaments, including back-to-back Masters Cup titles.

"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," the 40-year-old Hewitt said.

"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 honoured.

“The Hall of Famers are people who I admired so much throughout my career - especially people like Rochey (Tony Roche) and Newk (John Newcombe) and Rocket (Rod Laver) and so many others.

“They were all motivating factors in my career and to be recognised alongside them in tennis history is an incredible honour.”

Lleyton Hewitt, picctured here with wife Bec, son Cruz and Alex de Minaur at the 2018 Newcombe Medal.
Lleyton Hewitt with wife Bec, son Cruz and Alex de Minaur at the Newcombe Medal in 2018. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Since his retirement, Hewitt has turned to commentary and coaching and has been Australia's Davis Cup captain since 2016.

He has been responsible for nurturing and developing a number of Australia's most promising young stars, including Alex de Minaur and Alexei Popyrin.

Hewitt is the first Australian to be voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame since wheelchair champion David Hall in 2015.

Fans flocked to social media to congratulate the Australian champion.

'Original 9 also voted into Hall of Fame'

Hewitt was the only one of five nominees in the player category - the others being Juan Carlos Ferrero, Sergi Bruguera, Jonas Bjorkman and Lisa Raymond - who was voted in.

Billie Jean King and the other members of the Original 9, who laid the groundwork for the women's professional tour, are the first group elected together.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of when King, elected to the Hall in 1987 for her accomplishments on the court, and eight other players - Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, Kerry Melville Reid, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey and Valerie Ziegenfuss - took a stand against the disparity in prize money between men and women in the sport at the time.

That set the stage for the Virginia Slims circuit and eventually today's WTA Tour.

Now all four Grand Slam tournaments offer equal prize money to women and men.

The induction ceremony is scheduled for July 17 at the Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, and will also honour the former players voted in as the Class of 2020, Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez, because last year's festivities were called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

with AAP

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