American tennis coach Nick Bollettieri passed away aged 91 on December 4. Bollettieri was suffering from several health problems for the last two years. Bollettieri founded the IMG Academy in 1978 and helped launch some of the greatest tennis players in history, including André Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Maria Sharapova.
Bollettieri started his coaching career in 1956 at the Wayland Academy and was considered the greatest tennis coach ever. In the early 1970s, he became the director of tennis operations at the Dorado Beach Hotel in Puerto Rico, owned by the Rockefeller family.
In 1977, he left the academy and eventually, in 1978, he opened the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, now called the International Management Group (IMG) Academy.
Jim Courier was one of the first players coached by Bollettieri, who reached the top of ATP ratings. Later in 1993, he became the coach of Boris Becker, who had topped the ATP ratings in 1991.
In WTA, the first woman coached by Bollettieri to reach the top ranking was Monica Seles in 1991.
In 2014 Bollettieri was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 2015, he became the first white man to be inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.
When Bill Simons of Inside Tennis asked what advice he would like to give to young Nick, Bollettieri said, “I would tell young Nick, ‘As you grow up, whatever somebody says about you, say thank you. And keep on doing things that people say can’t be done, like doing the first live-in tennis academy in the world.’ But that’s not what I want to be remembered for. I want to be remembered for giving kids an opportunity to learn.'”