26 January 2020 | Tennis Australia

Fans visiting the Australian Open will see a new bronze bust among the illustrious collection surrounding Garden Square at Melbourne Park.

John Fitzgerald, a former doubles No.1 and top 25 singles player, was enshrined in the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame on Sunday evening at Rod Laver Arena, prior to Ash Barty’s fourth-round match against Alison Riske.

“I want to thank Tennis Australia. This is a true honour,” said Fitzgerald, before a crowd that included fellow Australian Tennis Hall of Fame members Neale Fraser and Pat Cash, along with Todd Woodbridge in his MC role.

“It is an honour for me to be in the same space as my friends, and my heroes, and I’ll be out in Garden Square with them.”

Fitzgerald was an Australian Open champion in doubles in 1982, when the tournament was played at Melbourne’s Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Partnering fellow Australian John Alexander, the duo defeated Americans Andy Andrews and John Sadri in a tight final.

The victory at Kooyong was a major breakthrough for Fitzgerald, marking his first Grand Slam title of any kind.

The South Australian went on to complete a career Grand Slam in doubles, winning two titles each at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

Season 1991 was his finest on the doubles court, with Fitzgerald combining with Anders Jarryd to lift the Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open trophies.

It was also the year he rose to the world No.1 doubles ranking.

Fitzgerald also won two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, triumphing at the 1983 US Open and Wimbledon in 1991 alongside fellow Australian Elizabeth Smylie.

He retired with six singles titles and 30 doubles titles. But success did not stop in his post-playing career.

Fitzgerald took over the Australian Davis Cup captaincy in 2001 and, after being a part of two winning teams as a player in 1983 and 1986, he guided the Aussies to victory in 2003 – a win that came over Spain at Rod Laver Arena.

His last year at the Davis Cup helm was in 2010, after which he began an impressive tennis broadcast career.

He has also traversed Australia introducing children to the sport and working as motivation  to community groups, aspiring players and sports clubs.

Thanking sculptor Barbara McLean (“I’m so happy it has some hair,” he joked), Fitzgerald also paid tribute to many influential figures in his career, including first coach Peter Smith, friend and former Davis Cup team-mate Sid Ball and former doubles partners Liz Smylie, John Alexander and Anders Jaryd.

The biggest thanks though, was reserved for Fitzgerald’s family – his wife Jenny, daughters Elizabeth and Bridget and son Patrick.

“The greatest partner I ever got was obviously outside of tennis, so Jenny, thank you, for being there for many ears,” said Fitzgerald. “And our three beautiful children. It’s a pleasure to have you all back. I love you all.”

He joins an incredible list of names in the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame, including Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Tony Roche, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Judy Dalton, Wendy Turnbull, Pat Cash, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt.