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.
Nick Bollettieri, the legendary tennis coach and founder of Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which served as the foundation for today’s IMG Academy, has passed away.— IMG Academy (@IMGAcademy) December 5, 2022
He was 91 years old. 💙🤍
🔗: https://t.co/vvFnYHowKc pic.twitter.com/zJYem2SvF6
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.
Former world No. 1 tennis player, eight-time major champion and an Olympic gold medalist.
Our dear friend, Nick Bollettieri, graduated from us last night. He gave so many a chance to live their dream. He showed us all how life can be lived to the fullest…— Andre Agassi (@AndreAgassi) December 5, 2022
Thank you, Nick 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/PhO36oPWpI
The former professional tennis player ranked second in the world in singles in 2002, and No. 11 in 2013.
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.
RIP Nick- you were an amazing coach, transformed how tennis is taught and most of all, you were a very kind human being-it was an honor to have known you… https://t.co/hwv4RLtEo5— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) December 5, 2022
Winner of five Grand Slam titles, and 2012 single women's Olympic silver medalist.
Maria Sharapova talking about the Impact Nick Bollettieri had on her life— Sharapova News (@NewsSharapova) December 5, 2022
RIP Nick 🕊️
Thank You for everything
(📹:1836co, 02/08/2022) pic.twitter.com/wIgFmSMMLP
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.
RIP Nick Bolletieri ; Aside from being the greatest coach ever, you were so kind to me, my parents, and my siblings… that meant more to me than anything, you had a big heart and a zest for living…❤️❤️❤️— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) December 5, 2022
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.
Our sport lost one of its most passionate coaches & advocates. Nick was always positive & was able to get the best out of everyone fortunate enough to work w/him.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 5, 2022
Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & team at the Academy.
May he rest in peace. https://t.co/svkmaNXdBd