CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Former Grand Slam doubles champion Bob Hewitt was released from prison on parole on Friday after serving nearly four years of a six-year sentence for the rape and sexual assault of girls he coached in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s.
The three victims were all minors at the time.
Hewitt, who was stripped of his place in the Tennis Hall of Fame after the allegations surfaced, was back at his home near the city of Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s south coast, the Department of Corrections said.
Hewitt, who is now 80, was convicted in 2015. He was found guilty of raping one girl, who was under the age of 16 at the time, in 1981, and raping another girl under 16 in 1982. He was found guilty of sexually assaulting a third girl, who was under the age of 18, in 1994.
He was jailed in 2016 after failing with an appeal against his sentence.
South African media reported the victims, who waited 20 years or more for justice, opposed his parole. He was eligible after serving half his sentence.
Hewitt’s case provoked anger in South Africa, which has high rates of gender-based violence. He was initially due to be paroled last September after serving exactly three years but that decision was reviewed and canceled after complaints that the victims hadn’t been involved in the parole hearing, as is required.
The first offense occurred two years after the Australia-born Hewitt won the last of his 15 Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles titles. He won nine Grand Slam doubles and six mixed doubles titles in the 1960s and 1970s, including the 1970 French Open mixed doubles with Billie Jean King. He also reached the semifinals of the men’s singles at the Australian Open three times and won the Davis Cup with South Africa in 1974 after moving there to live in the late 1960s.
He was inducted into the Rhode Island-based Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992 as a master of the doubles craft. He was indefinitely suspended from the hall in 2012 and his legacy stripped from the institution after an investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse.
Another woman in the United States has accused Hewitt of sexually abusing her when she was a minor.
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