The most recent episode of the US cable channel HBO’s series, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” aired a story about a group of women who accuse the South African tennis player and commentator Bob Hewitt of sexually abusing them when they were children. Hewitt was their tennis coach.
One of them, Twiggy Tolken, who lives in Johannesburg, tells interviewer Mary Carillo (also a 1970s professional tennis player): “People are going to know exactly what he’s all about; who he is, how sick he is.” This is the second time HBO did an insert on the allegations. They also go to Hewitt’s house in the Eastern Cape province, where he refuses to see them. Here’s the promo with Tolken:
Hewitt, who had migrated to South Africa from Australia in the 1960s, had a very successful career on the professional tennis circuit. He won both men’s and mixed doubles in all four Grand Slams tournaments, with among others Billie Jean King. (By the way, Hewitt can also claim to be a Davis Cup champion with South Africa in 1974; when only whites represented South Africa. However, Real Sports failed to mention that South Africa only won the Davis Cup by default after India withdrew from the finals as a sign of protest against South Africa’s Apartheid policies.)
The abuse of young girls allegedly happened in the 1970s and 1980s when Hewitt began training young tennis players.
Hewitt’s alleged vile actions were first exposed in 2011 when one of his victims – she was a 15-year old tennis prodigy when he abused her – told her story to the Boston Globe. Real Sports aired its first report on the allegations against Hewitt in November 2011. He was indefinitely suspended by the International Tennis Hall of Fame right after.
The Real Sports report charged some of Hewitt’s teammates along with the children’s parents and tennis administrators in South Africa with neglecting to act against him sooner. Ray Moore, a Davis Cup teammate of Hewitt, regrets on camera that he did do not enough to expose Hewitt at the time. Moore describes Hewitt as abrasive and argumentative.
There’s been some progress with the case: two weeks ago a South African court charged Hewitt with two counts of rape and one count of sexually assaulting a minor. There are also attempts to charge him in a US court.