Google Down the Line!: THE LOW DOWN: Former tennis pro reveals sexual abuse by doubles Hall of Famer

Friday, March 25, 2011

THE LOW DOWN: Former tennis pro reveals sexual abuse by doubles Hall of Famer

Now, here's a sad story that began circulating around the Internet yesterday.

Heather Crowe Conner, a former tennis pro who, according to a story in the Newburyport News, "played numerous times at Wimbledon and the US Open" broke her silence last week about a secret she had been keeping for the last 35 years: She had been molested and raped by her tennis coach for 15 years.

This tennis coach was not just any old pro at her local club or park, though. Conner reveals he was "a Hall of Fame tennis star widely considered 'the best doubles player in the world' and someone who had won 'many Grand Slam tournaments.'" The tennis pro, who was married at the time, became her traveling coach in 1975 when she was 14-years old. She recalls the abuse beginning shortly after they began working together and continued into her adult years. Although she managed to have a successful tennis career for several years she believed it was "directly linked to her 'special' relationship with this man."

Last year, she took an extended medical leave of absence from her teaching position to undergo intensive therapy to deal with the abuse and its effects on her life.  Conner made attempts to file criminal charges but the statute of limitations on the alleged abuse had expired and her abuser would need to be extradited from South Africa where he currently resides. Nevertheless, she has continued to work on healing herself and according to the article believes "speaking publicly about her experience is a step in her healing process." Let's hope, though the road to recovery will be long no doubt.

So, let's face the elephant in the room: Who's the person Conner has accused of the abuse? She doesn't say, of course, but there are enough clues in the article to go on including 36, his age in 1975 when they first met - he'd be either 71 or 72 now; he's a Hall of Famer and multiple Grand Slam winner in doubles; he was married at the time and now resides in South Africa.

Here's a list of Hall of Famers from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum website. I think if you do some quick research you could probably figure it out.

[Photo(s):, Bryan Eaton staff photographer]
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  1. I don't want to accuse anyone, but based on the information Ms. Crowe gave, Bob Hewitt fits. He is the correct age (born January 1940, making him 35 in 1975), a GS doubles champ, Hall of Famer and currently lives in South Africa.

    Hewitt's longtime doubles partner Frew McMillan, though also a South African and Hall of Fame member, is too young by several years to fit the description. I would guess Crowe specified the perpetrator's age to make clear it wasn't McMillan.)

    (Hewitt was originally from Australia, but married a South African woman, settled there and played for their Davis Cup team.)

  2. As I alluded to in the post, it won't take much research to figure out the likely person she alleges committed the abuse.

    For some reason I feel she dropped all of the clues so people would figure it out. She probably can't say the name since she couldn't prosecute or try to extradite him from S. Africa. I'm not a lawyer so this is all speculation and could be way off.

    It's her way of getting some justice for what, again, allegedly happened - let the public know in not so many words.

  3. I just watched Heather Crowe Connor with Emily Rooney WGBH Boston,Sept.26,'11, and it's clear this monster of a world class tennis player/perverted coach, safely tucked away in S. Africa, is THE perpetrator of her abuse so many yrs ago. Being a survivor myself, it takes years to admit the shame & guilt caused, and the effects on a marriage. Heather, we honor you for the courage to hold him accountable. Healing takes time and guts--HE only had temporary amnesia, and Heather tactfully burst that wide open. He can't hide anymore. You went from Victim to VicTOR. I anonymously called my perp over 20 yrs ago, in my 30's, and when he answered, I asked him if he was still abusing young girls. His response? "You've been after me a long time, haven't you?" My nightmares finally subsided, knowing I cornered HIM this time. I even warned his kids to keep the grandchildren away from him.

  4. With power and fame, comes the feeling that nobody can say no to you. In fact, the offer of free coaching lessons is like a quid pro quo that made Mr Hewitt think - look how lucky she is to be with me.


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