Lleyton Hewitt has announced his retirement from singles tennis after losing to David Ferrer in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday.
The former world number one was beaten 6-2 6-4 6-4 by the Spaniard before an emotional exit at the Rod Laver Arena.
Hewitt won his first Grand Slam title–the US Open–in 2001 at the age of 20 and became the youngest ever world number one aged 20 and nine months that same year, breaking the 69-year-old record set by American Wimbledon champion Ellsworth Vines, aged 21, in 1932. He’s also the the youngest qualifier in the Australian Open history after qualifying for the competition in January 1997, a month before his 16th birthday.
The Aussie went ahead to become the Wimbledon champion the following year, and those are the two major titles he won in his career. Hewitt was also a member of two Australian Davis Cup-winning teams, over Spain in 2003 and France in 1999.
Speaking upon the announcement of his retirement Hewitt stated: “I left nothing in the locker room. My whole career I’ve given 100%,” said the 34-year-old Australian. “I love coming out here and competing. I’ve been so fortunate to have that opportunity 20 years in a row. “Playing for Australia has always been my biggest honour,” added Hewitt, in an emotional interview at Rod Laver Arena. I feel honoured to have had this support and this love from this crowd. It means so much for me. I’ve had so much success in big matches on this court and I feel fortunate to finish here. It’s the perfect place to finish.”
Some of the biggest names in tennis paid tribute to Hewitt:
Roger Federer: “Thank you for everything you have done for tennis. I’ve loved every moment. I’ve enjoyed listening to you as a commentator as well, and I wish you all the best now with your family.”
Rafael Nadal: “I have always had something special with you. You are a big inspiration of my tennis and my mentality. I think your love and passion for this sport is a great inspiration for the next generation too. Thank you very much.”
Andy Murray: “You were an idol of mine when I was growing up and you’ve always been so nice to me and helpful on tour and I really appreciate that. Enjoy your retirement, it is well deserved. Good luck mate.
Nick Kyrgios: “You’ve taught all us young kids a lot so hopefully you’ll still be hanging around. I just want to repeat what I’ve been saying to you: Don’t go mate, you’re playing such a high level of tennis, you’re definitely still the best player in Australian tennis.”
David Ferrer: “It’s a sad day because Lleyton is finishing his career. He’s an amazing player. It’s a pleasure to play against him in his last match.
“He’s such a fighter until the last ball. He deserves all the tributes – he is one of the best players in history.
“I never had idols but he is one for me. I have a T-shirt signed by him from seven years ago. I have a museum in my house and that is in it – it’s the only T-shirt of a tennis player I have.”