© Ella Ling

Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt's top 10 highlights and lowlights

   

1. Registering ‘C’mon’ as a trademark (or at least trying).
For years, Hewitt has been the King of the Fist Pumps, the King of the C’mons, the man who never knowingly wasted one bit of his talent. Hewitt, arguably the greatest over-achiever in the history of professional tennis, has long been told that his ‘trademark’ is his indomitable will to win, those hand gestures, and the stentorian cries of ‘C’mon’. So perhaps that was why he punched his lawyer’s number into his phone and asked him to make this official, to register ‘C’mon’ as a commercial trademark. But the Australian courts disagreed with his view that Hewitt owned ‘C’mon’. As far as we are aware, no debenture holder on Wimbledon’s Centre Court has ever tried anything similar with ‘C’mon Tim’ and the accompanying titters.
C’mon rating: 4/5. 
 
2. Winning Wimbledon one summer, and then losing in the first round the next.
It is unfortunate, you have to think, for Hewitt that people have better recall of the occasion he lost in the opening round of the 2003 Championships, to Ivo Karlovic, than the afternoon in 2002 when he became the All England Club Single-handed Champion of the World by beating David Nalbandian. As someone wrote at the time, Karlovic beating Hewitt was “gargantuan news, literally and metaphorically”. Hewitt’s street-hustling could not hurt Karlovic, 6 foot ten inches tall. “There wasn’t a whole heap I could do out there,” Hewitt said. For the first time since tennis turned professional, the defending men’s Wimbledon champion had lost in the opening round.
C’mon rating: 5/5 and 0/5. 
 
3. The baseball cap.
As Richard Hinds of the Melbourne Age once observed, there has always been something incongruous about Hewitt, with his “Bart Simpson clobber and his Dennis Hopper sneer”. The Style Guide According to Lleyton stipulates that a baseball cap must be turned backwards. Yes, even after you have left your teens. Let’s not pass comment on his parents’ white tracksuits.
C’mon rating: 3/5. 
 
4. A first slam in New York City.
Less than 48 hours later, tennis was an irrelevance, after hijacked planes slammed into New York skyscrapers. Yet, a decade on, there is no mistaking that this was a fine performance by Hewitt, then aged just 20, to beat Pete Sampras in the final to win his first slam. As Sampras has recalled in his autobiography, A Champion’s Mind, he was beaten in straight sets by a young punk. “Hewitt was just 20, and he still had peach fuzz on his face. With his long hair and clear-blue eyes, he looked like a teenage surfer or a skateboarding champ, and he played with a healthy disdain for etiquette, forever punctuating his better shots with gut-wrenching screams of ‘Come awwwwwn’.” (See above).
C’mon rating: 5/5.
 
5. Animosity and aggravation with the Argentines.
About as popular in Buenos Aires as Margaret Thatcher. Hewitt’s most public disagreement with an Argentine opponent came at the 2005 Australian Open when Juan Ignacio Chela spat in his direction during their third-round match. Chela, who had apparently been aggrieved by Hewitt’s cry of “C’mon” after the South American missed an easy volley, was afterwards confronted in the locker-room by Hewitt’s then coach, Roger Rasheed. The tension between Hewitt and the Argentines apparently goes all the way back to the late 1990s and a junior Davis Cup competition. Hewitt won few friends by hanging a ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ banner over his balcony, just after the South American team had been knocked out. As a senior player, Hewitt once hired personal bodyguards for a trip to Argentina.
C’mon rating: 5/5. 
 
6. Wedding planning with Kim Clijsters.
“I’m just going to rock up, mate,” Hewitt once said of how he would contribute to the organisation of his wedding with Kim Clijsters. Thousands of other unreconstructed Australian males were doubtless nodding in agreement. Yet Hewitt never did get the chance to “just rock up, mate” as the engagement was called off. He would marry Bec Cartwright, an Australian actress who was previously best known for a role in a soap-opera, while Clijsters married an American basketball player, Brian Lynch.
C’mon rating: 1/5.
 
7. Late-night, early-morning tennis with Marcos Baghdatis.
If the lateness of the hour was unexpected – Hewitt’s third-round match at the 2008 Australian Open against the Greek Cypriot was completed at 4.34am, the latest finish in the history of the slams – the result was not. A match played in those circumstances, at a ludicrous time of day, was always going to appeal to Hewitt’s bloody-minded nature. After five sets, and almost five hours, he collapsed on to the court.
C’mon rating: 4/5. 
 
8. Not today, thank you.
One of the oft-repeated stories about Hewitt’ media relations is that, on the day he became the world number one, and television crews turned up at the family house to record the happy moment, they were shooed away by his parents.
C’mon rating: 2/5. 
 
9. Comparing the courts at the Australian Open to cow dung.
Hewitt’s gripe in 2005 was that the surface at Melbourne Park was too slow, which would harm his chances of winning the title. “If I’ve got to win the Open on cow s—, I’ll try my best to do that,” said Hewitt, in a classic example of the man’s plain-speaking. “I’ll go there and do everything in my power to change that. I thought I maybe had a bit of a pull after being the number one in the world for two years and winning a couple of slams, but obviously not that much. I’m baffled by the whole thing, I really am. I’ve had a gut full of it to tell you the truth.” Despite his distaste at competing on ‘cow s—’, Hewitt finished as the runner-up that year to Marat Safin.
C’mon rating: 4/5.
 
10. Demanding that a linesman be removed at Flushing Meadows.
It was while Hewitt was playing an African-American opponent, James Blake, in the second round of the 2001 US Open that he demanded the removal of a black linesman from the court. Hewitt, who had just been called by the linesman for a foot-fault, had this to say to the umpire: “Change him, change. I’m only getting foot-faulted at one end. Look at him, mate, and tell me what the similarity is. I want him off the court.” Afterwards, Hewitt denied that he was a racist. “There was nothing that was said out that was racist. I didn’t say it in that way. You can think what you want, but at the end of the day I wasn’t making a racist comment. It was just between me and the umpire, a conversation between two people out there in the heat of a tennis match.”
C’mon rating: 3/5.