Better Lleyton than never.
This could be a long one. I’ll try and be brief. It’s taken a long time to get this sketch of Aussie tennis icon Lleyton Hewitt signed… well not this sketch exactly. This is not the only one I’ve drawn, but it could be the last. Many summers, and sharpies ago he was coming off the practice court at his home Slam -The Australian Open in Melbourne. I positioned myself on the left flank of the adoring and moving masses following him back to the locker room. I kept up with the pace parallel to Lleyton, who was signing all and sundry and a high fence on the other side as we formed a triangle. Eventually we reached the apex, just before the gate; me, Lleyton and a security person. I handed Lleyton my sharpie and positioned the sketch, the security person intervened. No sig. No sharpie. Ruined sketch. Cap and drawing in bin.
A few seasons later at the Queen’s Tennis Club in London, I was amongst a smaller throng, but nevertheless with the same degree of difficulty. This time it was kids with those large tennis balls… large, fluffy tennis balls, that destroy the felt tips on sharpies. With a new sketch and renewed hope I handed him my sharpie, which he proceeded to use on all the fluffy balls first. Then an official quickly whisked him away for media commitments, still holding my pen. No sig. No sharpie. Still had sketch (which got rained on later and binned).
A couple of years ago on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon Lleyton finished his match on Court 12 and was making the lengthy trek back to the players’ changing rooms, followed by a gazillion big-fluffy-balled kids. I just managed to get behind him with a fresh drawing, when he passed the sharpie he had be using to me over his shoulder and accelerated. No sig. One returned, but stuffed sharpie. One unsigned sketch.
On Saturday it was practice day for the Aegon Championships at Queens. Lleyton, a four-time winner of the event was a wildcard entry, making his final appearance before retiring at next years Aussie Open.The big fluffy-balled kids were there as well, among others. Lleyton came off the court, responded to our calls, took my pen-not a sharpie, but a N805 Pentel marker, (a much more robust pen for textured surfaces) and signed all the big fluffy balls plus a few other items before finally signing my sketch… and returning my pen, with a smile. One sig on sketch. One returned pen. Better Lleyton than never.