At age 33, former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt is still going strong, having recovered from previous hip, foot and toe surgery. This year, he has won tournaments at Brisbane, Australia, and Newport, R.I., to increase his title tally to 30. Among those 30 wins are two Grand Slam trophies from the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon. Currently ranked No. 41, Hewitt still is a feisty and determined competitor every time he takes the court. The Adelaide, Australia, native is married to Australian actress Bec Cartwright, and the couple has three children – daughters Mia and Ava and son Cruz.
USOpen.org: Is there anything you feel you must do when you get to New York?
Lleyton Hewitt: Not really. I spend a lot of times at the courts practicing, obviously. But there’s just a buzz around New York and especially out at Flushing Meadows during the Open. For me, I just have such great memories there from so many big matches and not just from the year I won it. I made the final and a number of semis there, as well. I just really enjoy being around New York those US Open weeks.
USOpen.org: The year you won it, besides playing and winning the title, do you have any strong New York-related memories from that special time in your career?
Lleyton Hewitt: Well, obviously, Sept. 11 happened straight after, two mornings after, which was quite shocking. It definitely put it in perspective that it was only a tennis tournament that I was playing. I was in an airplane back to Australia to play Davis Cup, so that sort of hit home pretty hard. In a good way, as soon as I won the final, there was a group of Aussies up at the top of the stadium, and I had a lot of support from them when playing in a final against Pete (Sampras), an American, so it was nice to have some Aussies there. And after I had the trophy, they kicked an Australian Rules football down onto the court so I would know there were Australians in the crowd. They were all from an Australian Rules football team.
USOpen.org: Do you remember your first trip to New York?
Lleyton Hewitt: I think it would’ve been for the juniors, which would’ve been in 1997. I was pretty excited. For me, it was particularly exciting because Pat Rafter won the Open that year, and I was fortunate to be able to go and watch a couple of his matches sitting way up at the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium. That’s when I got a good feel and appreciation for the place.
USOpen.org: Do you like to shop in New York?
LLeyton Hewitt: Uh, I don’t do a lot. I’ll grab more things for the kids, I must say. But my wife likes to shop there.
USOpen.org: I’m sure you come to New York as a family. What kinds of things do you like to do as a family in New York?
Lleyton Hewitt: Yeah, they’ll come to New York. We’ve been to Central Park a lot of times, obviously. The kids love it there. We go to FAO Schwartz, a big toy store. And obviously we go to Times Square, and we try to see a Broadway show, if possible. I can’t remember the shows, but I know it’s something that the kids select, definitely.
USOpen.org: Do you have any favorite restaurants you go to in the city?
Lleyton Hewitt: Yeah. My wife and I quite often go to Serafina. There are a couple of them around New York near the Parker Meridien, Central Park area.
USOpen.org: Have you played the tourist role around New York at all?
Lleyton Hewitt: Not really. I haven’t had a lot of time. We’ve been through Central Park on the horse and cart.
USOpen.org: If you could pick someone to give you a New York tour, who would it be?
Lleyton Hewitt: Probably Johnny Mac. He’s the only one I can’t think of off the top of my head.
USOpen.org: Have you encountered any well-known celebrities during any of your stays in the city?
LLeyton Hewitt: Yeah. I was in the lift (elevator) with my wife, and we were in there with the Pussycat Dolls, the band, a few years back. I probably wouldn’t have known it was them, apart for my wife and daughter. But not a whole heap.
USOpen.org: If you were going to buy a hot dog off a street vendor who just so happened to be a fellow tennis player, which player would you want it to be?
Lleyton Hewitt: For what reason? To have a chat? Probably Federer. I think he’d give me a safe one because we go way back.
USOpen.org: What is your favorite thing about the US Open?
Lleyton Hewitt: I think it’s more the buzz and atmosphere. It’s very loud, but I think it suits my personality on the court and for getting fired up out there. There’s a great feeling about playing night matches. You know, last year I played del Potro at night, and it’s just an awesome feeling. And the longer the match goes, a four- or five-setter, the crowd really gets involved in it.
USOpen.org: And just one last question... Where do you keep your 2001 US Open trophy?
Lleyton Hewitt: It’s in my house in Sydney in Australia. It’s in a cabinet with all my other major trophies.