Former tennis star Bob Hewitt jailed for rape

Retired tennis player Bob Hewitt sits in the dock in a court east of Johannesburg, South Africa (March 23, 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption The judge criticised Bob Hewitt for his lack of remorse during the trial

Former Grand Slam tennis star Bob Hewitt has been jailed for six years by a South African court for raping underage girls.

Hewitt, 75, was found guilty in March of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault on girls he was coaching in the 1980s and 1990s.

Judge Bert Bam criticised the Australian-born player for not showing remorse during his trial.

He said justice must be seen to be done, even for ageing offenders.

One of the victims who gave evidence at the trial said that Hewitt had assaulted her when she was just 12 years old.

The judge said at the time of Hewitt's conviction that the striking similarities between the three victims' testimonies showed that his conduct was calculated.


Speaking at the sentencing hearing in Pretoria, Hewitt's wife Delaille had begged the court to show mercy and not award a custodial sentence.

Hewitt had testified that he suffered from poor health.

The BBC's Nomsa Maseko, in Johannesburg, says the tennis champion has also been ordered to pay a fine to the South African Department of Justice, which will help fund its campaigns against sexual abuse.

Hewitt, who was a multiple Grand Slam doubles champion in the 1960s and 1970s, is expected to appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Bob Hewitt playing at Wimbledon in 1965

He was suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012 over the allegations.

Hewitt played initially for Australia, later moving to South Africa and taking citizenship there.

He was a member of the South African team which won the Davis Cup by default in 1974.

India, their opponents, refused to travel to South Africa for the final as a protest over the government's apartheid policies.

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