Wimbledon: Alfie Hewett determined to win his first singles crown
‘I want to make sure if it’s my last, I come out on a high’: Alfie Hewett is determined to do everything in his power to win his first singles crown at Wimbledon, his future in wheelchair tennis rolling being threatened due to a change in classification rules
- Alfie Hewett should expect a decade of dominance on the pitch
- He heads to Wimbledon knowing he may never have another chance to win it
- Hewett’s future in the sport uncertain due to change in classification rules
- Proposed for the first time in 2019, new rules deem his disability not serious enough
Five-time Grand Slam singles champion at just 23 years old, Alfie Hewett should expect a decade of dominance on the pitch.
Only things aren’t that simple for the world wheelchair number 2, who heads to Wimbledon this year knowing he may never get another chance to win it.
Hewett’s very future in the sport is at stake due to a change in classification rules – first proposed in August 2019 – which deems his disability not severe enough.
Alfie Hewett should expect a decade of dominance on the pitch
But he heads to Wimbledon this year knowing he may never have another chance to win it
The Briton, who suffers from Perthes disease which affects his hip and femur, was granted a temporary stay when the Paralympics were postponed for a year, meaning any final appeal on the new system will only be taken. ‘after the end of the Games in September.
However, as Hewett clings to hopes the decision can be overturned, the threat to his career makes him doubly determined to claim an elusive SW19 singles crown.
“I would be lying if I said it didn’t motivate me,” admits Hewett, who won three doubles titles at Wimbledon but has never made it past the singles semifinals.
âWhen I’m back home at the gym or on the court and my coach says, ‘This could be your last,’ it gives me that extra motivation to get out another 100-meter sprint or whatever.
âI want to make sure that if it’s my last, I go out on a high. I always dreamed of being in the final at Wimbledon and going to win it would be an incredible achievement, whatever the year. But with the potential for this to be the last, there is obviously a bit of extra pressure.
“Any Briton would be lying if he said winning Wimbledon is not the height of his career, so I’ll do my best.”
Hewett won three doubles titles at Wimbledon but never made it past the singles semi-finals
The proposed reclassification has led to a burning sense of injustice that has pushed Hewett to new heights over the past 18 months.
He won his third single at Roland Garros earlier this month, to accompany his two wins at the US Open. Hewett also teamed up with Britain’s No.2 Gordon Reid to win the doubles at Roland Garros and they now have 11 Duos Grand Slam doubles titles.
“These are the best 18 months of my career,” said Hewett, who is also aiming for gold at the Tokyo Paralympic Games after losing to Reid in the final at Rio 2016.
âI really tried to take him by the horns and go get him – and it shows in my performances.
Hewett’s future in the sport hangs in the balance due to a change in classification rules
âReclassification is completely out of my hands. There is still a long way to go and a long process to follow.
âThere have been recent developments with an independent review conducted by the International Tennis Federation, looking to see if there are ways to change the criteria to be more specific to tennis.
âThe previous criteria were based on para-athletics, so they decided to do some evidence-based research to try to really define these new criteria.
âI keep my fingers crossed that we can all be reassessed and I hope the decision can be overturned. Just getting a second chance at this ranking is all I can ask for. ‘
Hewett teamed up with Britain’s No.2 Gordon Reid (L) to win the US Open doubles title last year
For now, Hewett just wants to savor every moment and is delighted to be playing in front of the crowd again at Wimbledon, where he is arguably Britain’s best chance at glory. Longer term, Hewett dreams of the day when wheelchair tennis finals are promoted on one of the All England Club’s two best courts – provided he is still allowed to play.
âI have had some of the best memories I have ever had on a tennis court at Wimbledon so knowing that there are going to be fans adds to the excitement I already feel,â Hewett adds.
âRecently, the singles final was played on court n Â° 3. I have never played on Center Court or Court No 1, but it would be a dream.
âWe would love to be featured on terrain like this. A British couple and a local audience – that would be a memory to savor. ‘
Papa John’s is proud to partner with ParalympicsGB for Tokyo 2020 and launched ‘The Grand Slam’ pizza inspired by Alfie’s favorite toppings. The We are Limitless campaign aims to highlight how each Athlete Ambassador has overcome challenges and acts as a rallying cry to raise funds to support ParalympicsGB. For more details and to donate visit: www.papajohns.co.uk/paralympicsgb