Just a few months ago, the Supreme Court of South Africa denied Oscar Pistorius leave to appeal his murder conviction for the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Nevertheless, they yesterday granted Bob Hewitt, former Grand Slam Tennis star, leave to appeal his jail sentence for two counts of rape on minor girls and one sexual assault on a 17-year-old tennis pupil through the Constitutional Court.

Allegations of child-rape in the 1970’s.

The allegations against Hewitt surfaced in 2011 and dated back to the 1970’s. The victims were by then adult women. One of the complainants said that she had been sexually harassed when she was 10 years old and he was her tennis coach.

Prior to that, there had been an investigation into his sexual conduct by the South African Tennis Union, but the investigation came to nothing and no charges were laid at the time.

Removal from Hall of Fame.

It was Mary Carrillo’s investigative journalism piece for HBO'sReal Sports with Bryant Gumbel in 2012 that first saw him fall from grace. Subsequent to this, he was removed from the International Hall of Tennis Fame, although he had not yet been convicted on the allegations against him. Two years later, in June 2014, he was charged with rape and he was found guilty in March 2015 of the charges against him. He was sentenced to six years in jail.

Two years of appeals.

Over the past two years, he has appealed his sentence to the Supreme Court.

Out on bail, he was re-arrested after failing in that appeal but is out of prison once again as he has been granted leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court. Like Oscar, he has now run out of places to appeal his sentence and unless the Constitutional court rule in his favor, he will serve jail time for the crime of rape.

Still maintains his innocence.

Hewitt, who has always maintained his innocence of the charges will appeal on the grounds that he is in ill-health and that he is now an old man. At age 76, he feels the jail term would be too difficult to cope with. The granting of leave to appeal was reported by Times Live, who quoted a lawyer who is a spokesperson for an organization called Women and Men against Child Abuse as saying the leave to appeal is a “travesty” and that it is an “injustice.”

Star-studded career.

There has not been the same large international media coverage of his case as that of Olympian athlete Oscar Pistorius, possibly because his fame as tennis star was so long ago.

Hewitt was born in Australia but became a citizen of South Africa in 1967. During his tennis career, he once partnered Billy-Jean King in mixed doubles and they won the French Open in 1970. Between 1961 and 1980 he and his partners won 54 titles in open era doubles tournaments, six mixed doubles titles and nine grand slam doubles titles, including the Wimbledon, French and Australian Opens.

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