Nick Bollettieri, famed tennis coach known for guiding Serena and Venus Williams into the mainstream spotlight, died on Sunday at the age of 91.
His manager, Steve Shulla, said in an interview with Associated Press on Monday that the coach’s death comes after struggling with various health issues for an extended period of time. However, Shulla stated that the tennis star continued to inspire those around him, even through his poor health.
“When he became sick, he got so many wonderful messages from former students and players and coaches,” the manager said. “Many came to visit him. He got videos from others. It was wonderful. He touched so many lives and he had a great send-off.”
Tim Pernetti, president of IMG Academy, which was brown from the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, also had nothing but kind words to say about the deceased coach. “Anyone who knew Nick knows how much he loved developing the potential in young people,” Pernetti noted.
“Even in his last days, you could often find him on campus, coaching and mentoring young student-athletes and staff with the same passion and enthusiasm as he did in his 20s,” he continued. “Our heart goes out to his wife, Cindi, and his children. He has made a permanent and lasting impact on all of us.”
Reflecting on Nick Bollettieri’s impressive coaching career
Andre Agassi, a notable tennis player with 8 Grand Slam championship titles under his belt, also mourned the death of Bollettieri. As a student under the coach, Agassi expressed his gratitude for the 91-year-old’s profound impact. “Our dear friend, Nick Bollettieri, graduated from us last night,” the tennis player wrote on Instagram. “He gave so many a chance to live their dream. He showed us all how life can be lived to the fullest… Thank you, Nick.”
A native of New York, Bollettieri began his coaching career while attending the University of Miami. During college, he pursued a degree in law but began coaching tennis on the side. In 1978, he borrowed $1 million from a friend to invest in his own teaching program. From there, the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy was born.
The live-in tennis academy went on to become IMG Academy, which teaches other sports such as baseball, football, and soccer. His pursuit of teaching caused multiple tennis players to earn Grand Slam titles and even earned him an induction into the tennis Hall of Fame.
“I forged my own path, which others found to be unorthodox and downright crazy,” Bollettieri stated during his induction speech. “Yes, I am crazy. But it takes crazy people to do things that other people say cannot be done.”
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