Bob Brett: Tributes pour in as former tennis coach dies aged 67

Brett had a short-lived playing career but found his calling as a coach and learned the trade under one of coaching’s greatest names, Harry Hopman.

He initially worked with a group of players including 1981 Australian Open champion Johan Kriek, Mats Wilander, Guy Forget, John Lloyd, Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee and his growing reputation attracted the attention of Becker.

After parting ways with the German in 1991 he worked with Ivanisevic for four years, during which the Croatian reached two grand slam finals, and also enjoyed success with Andrei Medvedev, Nicolas Kiefer and Mario Ancic.

Brett set up his own academy in San Remo, Italy, in 2002, and two years later Ivanisevic brought a 15-year-old Cilic from his home town of Split to the Australian’s base.

Brett worked with Cilic for the next nine years alongside spells helping the Japanese federation and Tennis Canada.

Brett was brought to the LTA in 2014 following chief executive Michael Downey’s move from Canada to Britain but was not a natural fit behind a desk and he left the following year with the country’s high-performance programme in disarray.

On the court, though, Brett’s legacy cannot be disputed and he was awarded the Tim Gullikson Career Coach Award in the 2020 ATP Awards.

The LTA was among those paying tribute, saying in a statement: “The LTA was saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Brett, one of the sport’s most respected coaches.

“Bob supported the LTA in the role of player development director from 2014-2015 and during a career that spanned almost five decades he achieved so many successes, including guiding some of the game’s greatest players to reach their highest potential.

“Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Judy Murray wrote on Twitter: “Bob Brett gave me so much of his time + advice over so many years + I will always be very grateful for his words of wisdom + encouragement.”

Martina Navratilova also paid her respects, writing: “Bob Brett fought long and hard – he was a good man – RIP Bob – please keep coaching up there.”

A moving tribute came from Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who eventually took over Brett’s academy outside Paris.

He said: “I was just starting out as a coach and he was my star – one of the best coaches in the world. ? He trusted me, believed in me, took me under his wings and taught me the job. He was my mentor and I can’t thank him enough.? Rest In peace, my dear friend Bob Brett.”

From outside tennis, meanwhile, warm words came from double Olympic champion Daley Thompson, who said: “A friend of mine Bob Brett died today. Others will tell you what a great coach he was, I’ll say that he was a good friend, great company and always smiling. To his family my thoughts and condolences.”

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