Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The ATP lost its executive chairman and president Brad Drewett on Friday when the 54-year-old Australia native succumbed in his battle with Motor Neurone Disease (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease).
The ATP issued a statement, saying: "We are deeply saddened to announce that Brad Drewett passed away at his home in Sydney, Australia, earlier today. Brad, who served as ATP executive chairman and president since January 2012, had been suffering from Motor Neurone Disease. Our thoughts are with Brad's family on this extremely sad day for them, the ATP and the entire international tennis community. He will be sorely missed by all."
An outpouring of tributes for Drewett followed on social media. The great Rafael Nadal was one of the first to express his sorrow on Twitter, tweeting: "Today is a very sad day for sport and tennis in particular. Our president Brad has passed away."
Former women's No. 1 star Tracy Austin tweeted, "Very sad day for the tennis family losing a wonderful man, Brad Drewett! Prayers & thoughts to his wife & kids! R.I.P."
We first learned of Drewett's condition back in January, when he revealed he was suffering with the terminal disease and announced he would stay on board on an interim basis until the ATP found his successor.
Last year, Sports Business Journal placed Drewett on its list of the "50 Most Influential People in Sports Business." It marked the first time an ATP executive was featured on the list, as he was recognized for his efforts in securing a greater share of Grand Slam tournament revenue for players.
Drewett's diligence led to significant prize money increases from all four Grand Slam events, including Wimbledon's recent announcement that this year it will offer the largest purse in tennis history to players, with the biggest increases benefiting the early round losers. Drewett was also instrumental in growing the sport in Asia and the success of the wildly popular season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.
Drewett began serving in his most-recent ATP roles in January 2012, having previously served as the tour's chief executive officer for the International Group since January 2006. In that role, he oversaw the growth and success of the ATP's operations in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific regions.
As a player, Drewett reached the top 40 in singles and top 20 in doubles before retiring in 1990. He won 181 singles matches, including two titles, and captured seven doubles championships. Drewett was the Australian Open boys' singles champ back in 1975 and reached the quarterfinals in the men's main draw the following year in his Grand Sam debut. He also reached two Aussie Open doubles semifinals and a Wimbledon doubles quarterfinal.
In addition to his work with the ATP, Drewett developed and managed a number of successful businesses in the sport and fitness industry and worked as a television commentator in his native Australia.
Drewett is survived by his wife, Joanne, and four children, Jack, Ally, Joe and Tom.
Brad Drewett ... you will be missed.