Convicted in 2015 of rape and sexual assault of minors (girls he was coaching in the 1980s and 90s), Hewitt was sentenced to an effective six years in jail, and was subsequently permanently expelled from the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Hewitt was born and grew up in Dubbo, Australia, 400 kilometres west of Sydney. In the 1970s, he and his South African wife Dalaille (née Nicholas) moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. He is now a South African citizen.
Hewitt's most significant accomplishment was winning all Grand Slam doubles titles, both in men's and mixed doubles (US Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open) and being central to South Africa's only Davis Cup title in 1974. That victory was controversial, with India boycotting the final on the orders of its government due to South Africa's apartheid policies, which were affecting the ethnic Indian community of the country.
Hewitt achieved seven titles in singles and 65 in doubles. He was ranked World No. 6 in 1967 by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph. In 1992 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, though in 2012 he was suspended and in 2016 he was expelled from the Tennis Hall of Fame for his convictions of rape and sexual assault.
In 2011, a six-month investigation by The Boston Globe disclosed allegations from one adult woman who was coached as a girl by Hewitt's assistant coach. The investigation was prompted by the revelations of a former student in March 2011, She claimed that, beginning in the 1970s, Hewitt abused or harassed her when she was as young as ten years old. Interviews with contemporaries, in the United States and South Africa, indicated that there had been no rumors about misconduct by Hewitt at the time of the alleged events. The South African Tennis Union investigated after 1992, but no legal action was ever taken against Hewitt.
The Boston Globe's investigation and report of the victim has prompted the request and was followed up by a letter signed by his alleged victim asking for his removal from the Hall of Fame. A November 2011 investigative piece by Mary Carillo of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel includes interviews with the alleged victim and others who claim that Hewitt abused them. Hewitt did not agree to be interviewed for the piece.
In May 2012, Hewitt's one-time mixed doubles partner Billie Jean King spoke to the Washingtonian, saying "I don't feel good about Bob Hewitt. I played mixed with him. We won the French Open together in 1970. I'm not happy. I am very upset." On 15 November 2012, after months of investigation, Hewitt was deprived of his accolade in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. "His legacy ceases to exist in the Hall of Fame", said Mark Stenning, executive director of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. "As of today, his plaque will be removed from the Hall of Fame. His name will be removed from our website and all other materials, and from the perspective of the Hall of Fame, he is suspended from the Hall of Fame." On 6 April 2016, Hewitt was permanently expelled from the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Hewitt was charged in June 2014 with rape of two underage students in the 1980s and 1990s, and went on trial in 2015. On 23 March 2015, Hewitt was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault of minors by the South Gauteng High Court in South Africa, and was sentenced in May to an effective six years in jail. One of his victims, Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken, was 13 in 1980 when Hewitt, who was her tennis coach, raped her. Heather Crowe Conner of West Newbury was a 14-year-old in 1975 when Hewitt began raping her. Another victim, Suellen Sheehan, was 12 in 1982 when Hewitt assaulted her during a tennis lesson.