Bob Hewitt will be released from jail in South Africa serving only half his sentence for two child rapes. Picture: AP
Bob Hewitt will be released from jail in South Africa serving only half his sentence for two child rapes. Picture: AP

Former tennis star child rapist ‘to be freed early’

Former Aussie tennis great Bob Hewitt will be released from jail in South Africa serving only half his sentence for two child rapes, shocking his victims around the world.

Dubbo-born Hewitt was one of the greatest doubles tennis players in history, winning multiple major titles and Grand Slams playing with or against the greats including John McEnroe, John Alexander, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King.

But his reputation changed after a Boston Globe 2011 investigation in the United States uncovered evidence he raped two girls he coached in the 1980s, and indecently assaulted another in 1990s, when he coached in the US.

In May 2015, the now 80-year-old was convicted of raping the two girls, aged 12 and 13, and indecently assaulted the 17-year-old in the 1990s and sentenced to six years jail, and was only caged in September 2016 after a Constitutional Court challenge was lost.

 

Former Grand Slam tennis doubles champion Bob Hewitt pictured in court in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: AP
Former Grand Slam tennis doubles champion Bob Hewitt pictured in court in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: AP

But the Correctional Services Ministry in South Africa, where he has lived with his wife for much of his life, has announced he has now been granted parole and will walk on April 24.

The surprise announcement attracted instant rebuke from his victims.

"The Department of Correctional Services can confirm the parole placement of Robert Anthony John Hewitt … with effect from 24 April 2020," correctional services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said.

 

Members of the Australian tennis team (L-R): John Newcombe, Bob Hewitt, Ken Fletcher and Fred Stolle in a 1961 photo. Picture: Supplied
Members of the Australian tennis team (L-R): John Newcombe, Bob Hewitt, Ken Fletcher and Fred Stolle in a 1961 photo. Picture: Supplied

He confirmed the disgraced former tennis star had many previous attempts to get a sentence reduction which were rejected by both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court but he had now served a minimum term and had been assessed for release by psychologists and social workers and deemed safe to the community.

"I'm shocked with this news of his parole,'' Heather Crowe Conner, who a US court heard was repeatedly raped over four years by Hewitt, told media in the US.

"He should be serving several life sentences, and he's been granted parole? It seems like I don't matter, it seems like other women don't matter. How flipped upside-down this world is.''

 

Bob Hewitt, pictured at Kooyong, is a convicted child rapist.
Bob Hewitt, pictured at Kooyong, is a convicted child rapist.

Hewitt, won 15 major titles including the Grand Slam events, in both men's and mixed doubles including Wimbledon with partner Fred Stolle and had been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame although he was expelled on the year he was convicted.

His greatest claim to fame was winning all Grand Slam doubles titles both in men's and mixed doubles at Wimbledon and the US, Australian and French Opens.

Originally published as Former tennis star child rapist 'to be freed early'


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