Tennis Champion Lleyton Hewitt Picks a 'Career Doubles Partner'
Sunday August 25, 12:04 am ET
FLUSHING, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 24, 2002--Defending U.S. Open Champion Lleyton Hewitt today announced his commitment to join Special Olympics in its campaign to double the number of Special Olympics athletes worldwide. A million athletes strong, Special Olympics looks to grow the movement by another million athletes with mental retardation by the year 2005. Hewitt will support this by spreading the message of athlete and coach recruitment for the worldwide Special Olympics movement throughout his international tennis travels.
"Lleyton will be instrumental in helping Special Olympics reach the next generation of Special Olympics athletes," said Tim Shriver, President and CEO of Special Olympics. "As one of sport's brightest young global stars, his commitment to Special Olympics is a tribute to our athletes and a clarion call to the world's youth that Special Olympics athletes deserve admiration and respect. Lleyton's personal dedication will help bring the joy of sport and achievement to a million more Special Olympics athletes worldwide."
Hewitt launched the partnership today at the U.S. Open with a tennis clinic for Special Olympics athletes as part of the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. Special Olympics athletes from New York and New Jersey received tennis tips from the No. 1-ranked Hewitt. Next, he will most likely hit the athlete-recruitment trail with a stop in China in November to help launch the country's tennis program. A trip home to Australia will follow where Hewitt plans to incorporate a Special Olympics' component into his International Tennis Camp.
"I've been fortunate to have earned the title of champion in tennis, but Special Olympics athletes earn that title every day of their lives," said Hewitt. "Their courage and success over daily challenges is the true definition of 'champion.'"
Hewitt was first introduced to Special Olympics in 1998 by his former coach Peter Smith. Smith would host tennis clinics in Adelaide at which Hewitt would speak and play with the Special Olympics athletes. In 1999, Hewitt was featured in a South Australian-based advertising campaign with SPARC (Sport Art & Recreation Council Disability Foundation) to raise funds for Australian athletes with physical disabilities. Hewitt's interest in supporting sport opportunities for all people globally has helped mold his decision to join Special Olympics' campaign for growth.
Special Olympics is an international year-round program of sports training and competition for children and youth with mental retardation. More than 1 million athletes in more than 150 countries train and compete in 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides people with mental retardation continuing opportunities to develop fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with other athletes, their families and the community. There is no cost to participate in Special Olympics.
Visit Special Olympics online at http://www.specialolympics.org.