Hewitt, two-time GS champ, enters tennis HOF

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Lleyton Hewitt paused for a moment and the word easily came to mind when he was asked how he wanted to be remembered.

“Competitor,” Hewitt said in an interview with The Associated Press earlier in the day before his induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

“For me, someone that loved to lay it on the line day after day, and got the most out of themselves, I competed as hard as I possibly could on the court every time I took to the court,” he said. “The fans deserved for us to give everything and go out and compete, and that’s something I prided myself on.”

A native of Australia, Hewitt, 41, was elected into the Hall as part of the 2021 class, but due to travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was unable to attend the enshrinement ceremony last summer. There was no one elected for 2022, so the moment was his alone. He’s the 34th player from Australia to be inducted.

The enshrinement ceremony was held on Newport’s grass side courts after the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Open. Eight Hall of Famers, including Andy Roddick (2017) and Tracy Austin (’92), attended the event.

A two-time Grand Slam champion (Wimbledon 2002, US Open 2001), Hewitt finished ’01 and ’02 as the No. 1 player in the world and spent 80 weeks atop the rankings. In 2001, he became the youngest at 20 years, eight months and 26 days to become the top men’s player.

During his career, he won 30 singles titles and was a part of two Davis Cup championship teams, in 1999 and 2003.

One of his most memorable moments was being on his first Davis Cup team in ’99.

“I was only 18, I think, at the time. I had Pat Rafter as our top singles player and I was playing No. 2 behind him,” he said. “For me that was a really proud moment, to be standing beside all those great Australians that I always idolized and looked up to.”

Hewitt won his last ATP title at Newport in 2014. It was then that the thought of being elected to the Hall crossed his mind.

“I was here playing the tournament and I had the career that I had, and I was coming toward the end of my career,” he said in the interview. “A lot of people that I would bump into me would say: ‘I can’t wait to see you back here in a few years.’ That was probably the only time that you actually start thinking about it.”

He was a runner-up at the Australian Open in 2005. Despite no regrets, he said that it’s the only thing missing in his career — a Slam title in his own country.

“There’s nothing that I would change,” he said. “But something that I wish, obviously, that I was able to achieve. I felt, obviously, I was good enough to do.”

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