The Tennis World Reacts to the Death of Nick Bollettieri

The sport's greatest coach—and Bradenton resident—launched the tennis careers of greats like Venus and Serena Williams, Andre Agassi and more. He was 91 years old when he died

By Kim Doleatto December 5, 2022

Nick Bollettieri on the tennis court wearing an IMG shirt and holdlig a tennis racket.

Nick Bollettieri

Tennis pioneer and coaching legend Nick Bollettieri died last night at the age of 91.  

Born in Pelham, New York, to immigrant Italian parents, he helped launch legends of the sport like André Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova.

Despite never playing the sport professionally, in 1978 he opened the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, turning 40 acres of tomato fields into one of the most sought-after sports training facilities in the world. In 1987 the International Management Group (IMG) took over the academy but left Bollettieiri the task of directing it. IMG has since grown into a global destination for parents who want to launch their children into the professional sports arena, beyond just tennis.

He remained active and fit as a fiddle well into his later years. In fact, in 2015, we wrote about what a day in his life looks like. At the time, he was 84, and his day started with heading out to the courts by 5:30 a.m. for his first tennis lesson. "When it’s quiet like this, I feel the most connected to my baby, the Academy,” he said.

In addition to coaching some of the biggest names the tennis world ever saw, he wrote several tennis books in addition to an autobiography, worked as a TV pundit and married eight times, the last time to Cindi Eaton in April 2004. The couple adopted two boys, who he says loved team sports, although “I haven’t been able to talk them into tennis yet, but I’ll keep trying!” he said.

More recently, we wrote about his Bradenton home when it went on the market last year. Surprisingly, the home didn't include a tennis court, but a wall full of photos, including one of him and tennis powerhouse Serena Williams.

In July 2014, Bollettieri was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Today, tennis stars from around the globe bid goodbye to the icon.

André Agassi

Former world No. 1 tennis player, eight-time major champion and an Olympic gold medalist.

Tommy Haas

The former professional tennis player ranked second in the world in singles in 2002, and No. 11 in 2013.

Martina Navratilova

The former tennis star dominated women's tennis in the 70s and 80s when she won 18 major singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles.

Maria Sharapova

Winner of five Grand Slam titles, and 2012 single women's Olympic silver medalist.

Chris Evert

Winner of 18 major singles titles, including a record seven French Open titles and a joint-record six US Open titles. She was ranked the year-end world No. 1 singles player seven times.

Billie Jean King

Former world No. 1 tennis player and winner of 39 major titles who also led the fight for equal pay in tennis.

Show Comments