Bob Brett, one of tennis’ most respected coaches and a former director of player development at the Lawn Tennis Association, has died of cancer. He was 67.
He's an unsung hero, up there with the great Australian male coaches like Mr. Hopman, Barry Phillips Moore, Tony Roche and Darren Cahill. Paul McNamee
Brett was brought to the LTA in 2014 following chief executive Michael Downey’s move from Canada to Britain but left the post deciding he was best suited to on court coaching rather than pushing paper.
The LTA was quick to pay tribute to their former head coach: “The LTA was saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Brett, one of the sport’s most respected coaches.
“Bob supported the LTA in the role of player development director from 2014-2015 and during a career that spanned almost five decades he achieved so many successes, including guiding some of the game’s greatest players to reach their highest potential.
“Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”
The Australian will be best remembered for developing the career of Boris Becker who during their time together, won three grand slams and reached the top of the world rankings.
After Becker he went on to shape the careers of Goran Ivanisevic for four years, guiding him to two grand slam finals, plus Marin Cilic, and amongst others, Andrei Medvedev, Nicolas Kiefer and Mario Ancic.
Brett had a short-lived playing career but found his calling as a coach learning his trade under one of coaching’s greatest names, Harry Hopman, and initially working with the likes of Johan Kriek, Mats Wilander, Guy Forget, John Lloyd, Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee.
Tennis Australia recognised his contribution to the sport with a tribute on Wednesday, after being informed by Brett’s family of his death.
“Bob Brett’s passing is a great loss to tennis,” Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said. “He was an exceptional coach and widely admired. Bob guided all level of players to success — from Grand Slam champions to those starting out in the sport he loved so dearly.”
His contribution over 46 years of coaching had also been recognised by the ATP last November when he was given their ‘Tim Gullikson Career Coach’ award for those who ‘exemplify excellence, leadership, respect, and a true love for the sport of tennis and the art of coaching.’
In addition to his personal player coaching, he was involved in coaching for national associations, namely the LTA, Tennis Canada and the Japanese Tennis Federation having set up his own private tennis academy in San Remo, Italy.
Not surprisingly, tributes have been pouring in as he touched many in the sport.
Judy Murray for instance, wrote on Twitter: “Bob Brett gave me so much of his time + advice over so many years + I will always be very grateful for his words of wisdom + encouragement.”
Martina Navratilova wrote: “Bob Brett fought long and hard – he was a good man – RIP Bob – please keep coaching up there.”
Meanwhile Patrick Mouratoglou, who eventually took over Brett’s academy outside Paris, acknowledged the part he played in helping him in his own coaching career.
He said: “I was just starting out as a coach and he was my star – one of the best coaches in the world. He trusted me, believed in me, took me under his wings and taught me the job. He was my mentor and I can’t thank him enough. Rest In peace, my dear friend Bob Brett.”
Paul McNamee, a former top-ranked doubles player and former chief executive of the Australian Open, described Brett as “a super coach and great bloke, a true-blue Aussie who never changed.
“He’s an unsung hero, up there with the great Australian male coaches like Mr. Hopman, Barry Phillips Moore, Tony Roche and Darren Cahill. My thoughts with his daughters and extended family.”
Brett was born in Melbourne in 1953 and developed an interest in tennis from a young age. He settled back in Melbourne for his final years and became involved in several charitable organisations such as with the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation and last year established a non-profit association, the Kent Yamazaki & Bob Brett Tennis Foundation, to support disadvantaged youth in Australia.
He is survived by his two daughters, Caroline and Katarina, and his brother, Arthur Brett, who is a four-time Olympic coach in sailing.