Australian tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt saved his final thank you for his wife, Bec, as he bid farewell to professional tennis on Thursday night.
The former world No.1 was beaten in straight sets by Spaniard David Ferrer in the second round of the Australian Open.
But the match will be remembered for the final interview, in which Hewitt got the chance to thank the people who have been with him during his epic career.
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“Just Bec, she’s been fantastic,” Hewitt told Channel Seven’s Bruce McAvaney in front of a packed Rod Laver Arena.
“She’s my rock. Obviously, I love her so much and we have a great life together and she produced three fantastic kids.”
Hewitt was joined on court by his three kids, Mia, Cruz and Ava.
He also thanked his parents and sister for their support.
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Tennis legends paid tribute to Hewitt in a prepared video package which was played during the post match interview:
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for tennis and thank you for the great rivalry we’ve had, the good and the bad, but most of it is good.”
“I always had something special with you. You are a big inspiration for my tennis and for my mentality and I think your love and passion for this sport is a great inspiration.”
“You’re an idol of mine when I was growing up. You’ve always been unbelievably nice to me and helpful to me.”
“It’s a sad time for you to retire but you’ve taught all us young kids… you’re still the best player in Australia.”
WATCH THE TRIBUTE BELOW:
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Hewitt was visibly emotional after the tribute.
“I’ve had great times with them in the past. It’s a bit emotional hearing those guys speaking about you,” he said.
Despite a niggling leg strain which required treatment throughout the match, Hewitt did as he always does; he competed.
In his words: “I came out, gave everything I had like always, left nothing in the locker room. That’s something I can always be proud of, my whole career I’ve given 100 per cent.
“I love coming out here and competing. Every time I come out here at Rod Laver Arena, it’s like a second home for me and I’m just so fortunate having this opportunity.”
Thanks for the memories, Rusty.
— Rod Laver Arena (@RodLaverArena) January 21, 2016