Somerset West - South
Africa's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by former Grand Slam tennis
champion Bob Hewitt on Thursday and ruled he must serve a six-year jail
sentence for the rapes and sexual assaults of young girls he coached
A panel of three judges at the Supreme Court of
Appeal said in a written judgment that the prison sentence given to
Hewitt at the end of his trial was appropriate and fits "the criminal
and the crime."
Hewitt, now 76, was convicted and sentenced last year. The Supreme Court judges said he "showed no remorse for his vile deeds."
was found guilty of raping two girls and sexually assaulting a third in
the 1980s and 1990s. The victims were minors at the time of the
assaults. They are now grown women who had to wait more than two decades
Hewitt "exploited the complainants' innocence and
youth and forced them to submit to his wicked desires. He abused his
position of authority and responsibility towards them," the Supreme
Court judges wrote.
His standing as a "tennis icon" had no bearing
on the case, the appeal court said, and his "celebrated status does not
therefore earn him a special sentence."
The Australia-born Hewitt
won 15 Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles, and played
occasionally with greats Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe. He also won
the Davis Cup with South Africa in 1974 after moving to the country and
taking on citizenship.
He has been held under a form of house arrest at his farm in southern South Africa since his conviction.
appeal has not succeeded and Bob Hewitt will be in jail for six years,"
Eyewitness News quoted Miranda Friedman of Women and Men against Child
Abuse as saying. "It is a massive victory for children all over the
world who were abused and raped, who have now come forward as adults."
his age and poor health, Hewitt's lawyers argued that a form of house
arrest would be an appropriate sentence. Hewitt also argued that the
rapes were not "brutal" and he stopped assaulting one victim when she
The United States-based International Tennis Hall of
Fame this year expelled Hewitt as a member. At least one other woman in
the U.S. has accused him of raping her when he was her coach years ago.