Andre Agassi leads tributes as tennis world pays its respects to coaching great Nick Bollettieri

Nick Bollettieri has been hailed as one of the most passionate coaches and a unique human being following his death.

The colourful and larger than life Bollettieri, who coached no less than 10 world No 1s, died at the age of 91 on Sunday.

"When he became sick, he got so many wonderful messages from former students and players and coaches. Many came to visit him. He got videos from others," his manager Steve Shulla told The Associated Press. "It was wonderful. He touched so many lives and he had a great send-off."

Bollettieri, the son of Italian immigrants, founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978 and it was bought by the International Management Group in 1987.

That academy would nurturer many a legend with the most famous being Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Jim Courier, Mary Pierce, Martina Hingis and Marcelo Rios.

Bollettieri coached Agassi from 1983 until 1993 and during that time the American won Wimbledon (1992) and finished runner-up at two Australian Opens and one US Open.

"Our dear friend, Nick Bollettieri, graduated from us last night. He gave so many a chance to live their dream. He showed us all how life can be lived to the fullest..." former world No 1 Agassi wrote.

"Thank you, Nick."

Another former world No 1 Chris Evert hailed him for being kind.

"RIP Nick Bollettieri. Aside from being the greatest coach ever, you were so kind to me, my parents, and my siblings... that meant more to me than anything, you had a big heart and a zest for living," the 18-time Grand Slam winner wrote.

The great Billie Jean King, winner of 39 major titles, also took to Twitter to pay tribute.

"Our sport lost one of its most passionate coaches & advocates. Nick was always positive & was able to get the best out of everyone fortunate enough to work w/him," she wrote.

"Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & team at the Academy.

"May he rest in peace."

Fellow renowned coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who has worked with Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Holger Rune, says Bollettieri paved the way for his own academy.

"You are a pioneer, You are a visionary," the Frenchman, who founded the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in 1996 near Paris, wrote on Instagram.

"Thanks to you, I have dreamt of having my own Tennis Academy, help the young generation find themselves as adults, prepare them for life, and make their dreams come true.

"For those who have had the chance to meet you, they can testify that you had a very unique energy and a lot of power inside yourself that you were able to convey to all the players. That made you such a unique human being.

"I'm very saddened by the loss of Nick Bollettieri. The tennis family has lost someone very important today, someone who has made our industry grow and has opened opportunities for coaches and players.

"We will remember the very special human being you were.

"We will all miss you."

World No 18 Denis Shapovalov said the American would be "cherished as one of the kindest".

"I will always remember and appreciate you coming out to my court and giving me advice," he said. "You have given our sport so much, and will always be remembered and cherished as one of the kindest, RIP Nick."

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