Bob Hewitt, the 74 year old Australian-South African former Grand Slam doubles champion who made the Tennis Hall of Fame, has been formally charged with a string of rape attacks and sexual assaults. The alleged offenses reportedly took place decades ago against girls that Hewitt coached in tennis, with one of the attacks taking place at Sun City casino resort in the north of the country.
Alwyn Griebenow, acting for Hewitt, said that his client vehemently denies that he sexually attacked the girls, nor had he made “any sexual advances” toward them. Griebenow said that Hewitt was focusing on the trial in order to “put the record straight”.
“Mr Hewitt is relieved that we at least now have a trial date,” said the lawyer.
No plea was entered ahead of the trial date set for February 2015, and which will take place at South Gauteng High court.
According to the charges placed against the Australian-born Hewitt, he is accused of raping a girl under the age of 16 in 1981 and another in 1982. A third girl was allegedly assaulted in 1994.
Two of the offences happened in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, while the other at Sun City. Others have come forward over the years, claiming that Hewitt made sexual advances towards them in his capacity as tennis teacher over the years.
Hewitt won nine grand slam doubles and six mixed doubles titles when he was at the peak of his tennis career in the 60s and 70s. Some of his tennis partners included Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King.
Hewitt moved to South African in 1974 and won the Davis Cup representing this country.
In 1992, Hewitt was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame (located in Rhode Island, US). However, when news of the charges against him came to light, he was indefinitely suspended from the Hall of Fame in 2012. The decision of his suspension came after he was independently interviewed by investigators hired by the Hall.
Hewitt has been plagued by health problems in the past few years, including suffering a stroke in 2010, a heart attack in 2011 and depression. He will attend his trial, however, and continues to deny the charges against him.