8 QUESTIONS WITH LLEYTON HEWITT

Australian tennis champ LLeyton Hewitt explains why he lives in the Bahamas

Former world No. 1 tennis champ Lleyton Hewitt wants to spend more time with his wife and three children. -- PHOTO: SWISSE SINGAPORE
Former world No. 1 tennis champ Lleyton Hewitt wants to spend more time with his wife and three children. -- PHOTO: SWISSE SINGAPORE

Lleyton Hewitt will retire next year and he hopes to be the next Davis Cup captain of Australia

Cutting a sharp figure in a crisp black suit and blue checked shirt which plays up his piercing baby-blue eyes, Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt looks every bit the celebrity during a recent interview with Life!.

Yet being on the big screen is not on his list of things to do after he hangs up his tennis racket next year.

"No, that is definitely Bec's domain, and Mia and Ava could very well follow in her footsteps," he says, with a chuckle.

Hewitt, 34, is married to actress Rebecca "Bec" Hewitt. They have three kids - daughters Mia, 10, and Ava, seven, and son Cruz, five.

The family shuttle between their home in a gated community in the Bahamas and Melbourne in Australia.

Hewitt was in town to launch Swisse, Australia's leading multi-vitamin brand. He is one of the brand's ambassadors along with actress Rebecca Lim and chef Willin Low.

Set to retire after the Australian Open in January, the former world No. 1 realised that his enthusiasm to play tournaments week-in, week-out had waned and "it was time, after 20 years on tour".

"My children are older now. Their schooling is important, so they and Bec could not travel with me as much and I missed not having them around," he adds.

Despite plans to take a breather and spend more time with his family, do not expect Hewitt to completely disappear from the sporting scene.

The former Wimbledon and US Open champion hopes to be the next Davis Cup captain of Australia.

He says: "I am passionate about Davis Cup. It is one of the few times that players in an individual sport can come together as a team. It is such an honour to be able to represent your country."

1 What's a typical day like for you?

Leading into the Australian summer, I would spend two to three hours on the court with my coach Tony Roche and at least one other hitting partner. We would do a combination of drills and Tony works me extremely hard. It is non-stop for that period of time.

After that, I meet my personal trainer and we could do anything from running on sand dunes, swimming in the ocean to running a series of 400m segments to weights. Sometimes it can be all of these. The session is again two to three hours long.

At the end, I will have an ice bath and massage to ensure I am right to go the next day.

I have always prided myself as being one of the very fittest players on the tennis tour.

2 What do you do during those precious few hours of downtime?

Spend as much time as possible with the family. I'm like a taxi service for the kids on the weekends, ferrying the girls for dance classes and Cruz for tennis.

Sometimes we head to smaller islands in the Bahamas such as Rose Island and Exuma along with friends and make a day out of it.

I enjoy playing golf when I can too.

3 How good a golfer are you?

I have played golf since I was young and certainly enjoy it though I don't play it as much as I would like.

A lot of pro golfers like Adam Scott and Justin Rose live in the Bahamas too, so I'm fortunate enough to play with them sometimes.

They beat me in a game of golf most of the time, but I do better in golf than they do in tennis.

4 Why choose to settle down in the Bahamas?

One of the disadvantages of living in Australia is the distance from Europe, North and South America where the majority of the tennis tournaments are.

As our family grew, we decided to look for somewhere that was easier to travel from, so that there would be time when Bec and the kids could stay at home and I could return if I knocked out early from an event without too much disruption.

The Bahamas is an hour from the US and there is a direct flight to London which takes only seven hours.

We also really enjoy the lifestyle and climate here.

5 What's your diet like and what do you indulge in?

Generally, it consists of cereals, fruits, meat, vegetables, pasta, rice - all the good food groups.

Everyone should treat themselves every now and then, and for me, it's a Starbucks coffee frappuccino.

6 If you weren't a professional tennis player, what would you be doing instead?

I definitely would have still been a sports person, maybe playing Australian Rules Football.

7 Do you foresee your son Cruz following in your footsteps?

That will be Cruz's decision, but at this stage, he certainly loves sports and playing tennis. He plays whenever he can and goes to the courts with me regularly.

My good friend and former professional tennis player Peter Luczak has taught Cruz for a few lessons. It's good he learns from someone other than me although I am here to support and guide him too.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to think that people will remember me as someone who gave his all on the court, never gave up, would always fight to the end and worked extremely hard to make the most of his abilities and achieve his goals.

gurveenk@sph.com.sg