Tributes flow after death of 'unsung hero' of Australian tennis, Bob Brett

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read
Australian tennis coach Bob Brett is pictured during a press conference as head coach of Japan's Davis Cup team in 2007. Brett died on January 5, aged 67. (Photo by Sarang Sena/The The India Today Group via Getty Images)
Australian tennis coach Bob Brett is pictured during a press conference as head coach of Japan's Davis Cup team in 2007. Brett died on January 5, aged 67. (Photo by Sarang Sena/The The India Today Group via Getty Images)

Australian tennis coach Bob Brett, one of sport's most respected mentors, has died of cancer.

Brett, who was 67, shaped the careers of Goran Ivanisevic and Marin Cilic and guided Boris Becker to three grand slam titles and the world No.1 ranking.

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He had a short-lived playing career but found his calling as a coach and learned the trade under one of coaching's greatest names, Harry Hopman.

He initially worked with a group of players including 1981 Australian Open champion Johan Kriek, Mats Wilander, Guy Forget, John Lloyd, Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee and his growing reputation attracted the attention of Becker.

After parting ways with the German in 1991, he worked with Ivanisevic for four years, during which the Croatian reached two grand slam finals, and also enjoyed success with Andrei Medvedev, Nicolas Kiefer and Mario Ancic.

Brett set up his own academy in San Remo, Italy, in 2002, and two years later Ivanisevic brought a 15-year-old Cilic from his home town of Split to the Australian's base.

Brett worked with Cilic for the next nine years alongside spells helping the Japanese federation and Tennis Canada.

Brett was brought to the Lawn Tennis Association in 2014 following chief executive Michael Downey's move from Canada to Britain but was not a natural fit behind a desk and he left the following year with the country's high-performance programme in disarray.

Tennis stars pay tribute to Bob Brett

On the court, though, Brett's legacy cannot be disputed and he was awarded the Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award in the 2020 ATP Awards.

Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who worked with Brett at the start of his career, wrote on Twitter: "Extremely saddened by the passing of Bob Brett with whom I have collaborated during 6 years and who has taught me so much in my early years as a coach. One of the best coaches I have met. Rest In Peace."

Craig Tiley, chief executive of Tennis Australia and Australian Open tournament director, also paid tribute to Brett, writing: "Bob Brett's passing is a great loss to tennis.

"He was an exceptional coach and widely admired. Bob guided all level of players to success, from grand slam champions to those starting out. My sincere thoughts are with Caroline and Katarina and Bob's extended family and friends."

Speaking to the Herald Sun, former Aussie star Paul McNamee described Brett as one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of Australian tennis.

“He’s one of the unsung heroes of Australian tennis, because of the impact he had around the world,” McNamee told the Herald Sun.

“He’s one of our greatest-ever coaches and you’d have to put him up there with Mr (Harry) Hopman, Tony Roche and Darren Cahill.

“He was a salt-of-the-earth Aussie. He always kept the accent, was a true blue guy and was never affected by his success — he was the same guy from beginning to end.”

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