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Rex Hartwig to be inducted into Australian Tennis Hall of Fame

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Australian tennis great Rex Hartwig will be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame today.

During a special ceremony on Rod Laver Arena before the night session, Hartwig will unveil a bronze bust, which will join greats of Australian tennis including Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe in Garden Square at Melbourne Park.

An outstanding doubles player, six-time Grand Slam champion Hartwig is best known for his perfectly timed groundstrokes and his crisp accurate volleys.

He won titles at the US Open in 1953, the Australian Open in 1954 and at Wimbledon in 1954 with Mervyn Rose, winning again at Wimbledon in 1955 with Lew Hoad. He also won mixed doubles at the Australian Open in 1953, with Julie Sampson (USA) and again in 1954 with Thelma Long.

“It is an absolute honour to have this Hall of Fame induction bestowed on me and I feel both very honoured and very humble,” 86-year-old Hartwig said.

“I am extremely proud that my contribution to tennis is being recognised in this way and receiving this accolade is very meaningful indeed.

“My fondest moments have been winning the major Grand Slams of Wimbledon, US and Australian doubles as well as all of the Davis Cup matches playing for Australia but in particular winning the two Davis Cups.

“I look forward to my own bust being placed in Garden Square at Melbourne Park as it will be joining my great tennis mates in Rose, Hoad, Rosewall, Fraser and Sedgman whom I was fortunate enough to travel and play with, sharing so many great experiences, stories, triumphs and memories together that will never fade,” Hartwig continued.

Born in Culcairn, NSW, Hartwig excelled in a range of sports from tennis, athletics, football and cricket while growing up. During the week he was his father’s right-hand man, and on Saturday afternoons his tennis partner at the Culcairn Tennis Club.

Although achieving most of his success in the doubles game, Hartwig was also a handy singles player, reaching a ranking of world No.5 and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open, losing to Rose, and the US Open to Vic Seixas, both in 1954.

A member of the Australian Davis Cup team from 1953 to 1955, Hartwig played in eight ties, compiling an enviable 12-1 win-loss record and helped the team to lift the coveted trophy in 1953 and 1955.

In 1955 aged 26 Hartwig turned professional but after several years on the tour returned to his farm in Greta, Victoria with his growing family.

In 1975 Hartwig came out of retirement after 16 years away from the game to play in the Australian Veterans Championships, winning the doubles with Rose and finishing as runner-up in the singles. In 1976 he won the singles at the Australian Veterans Championships.

In 1976 he was invited to play the elite Grand Masters tour of former world champions and ended up playing for five years, competing all over the world in front of big crowds.

Hartwig’s tennis career continued until the 1990s as he conducted coaching clinics across the north east region of Victoria with his son Leigh. Today he runs a successful Poll Dorset Stud in Greta and enjoys spending time with his 13 grandchildren.