It is with incredible sadness that we report the death of Tom Perrotta, a long-standing and much-loved member of ITWA, who passed away at home on January 6, 2021, at the age of 44, after a long battle with a brain tumour.
Many of you will have been lucky enough to have known Tom from the tennis circuit. For those who knew him well, Tom was a brilliant writer, someone who had a rare eye for a story. As a journalist, he worked hard and guarded his stories as closely as anyone, but with a softness and kindness that made him hugely popular not just with colleagues on the tennis circuit but also the players, coaches and administrators he spoke to often. As Alix Ramsay put it: “Tom could write like an angel but could hunt for a story like a grizzly bear in search of prey. He was a true gentleman and a true professional.”
Tom loved his tennis. He loved to write, he loved his food and he loved Bruce Springsteen. But most of all, he loved his family; his wife Rachel and his two fun-loving boys, Paul and Sean. I had the pleasure to stay with the Perrotta family in Brooklyn on several occasions at US Open time over the past few years. It was easy to see why Tom loved to be at home as much as he could.
He wrote many great stories. At the Australian Open one year, he found out about a place a couple of miles outside of Melbourne where players were going between matches to use hyperbaric chambers. On one of his visits, Novak Djokovic popped in and instead of being freaked out at seeing a journalist, he was happy to chat about it all. That’s probably because it was Tom. You can read that piece here.
Away from the job, he was a gentle man, with a great sense of humour. I can picture him now, laughing his head off at me for bringing tea bags from Britain to Australia and the United States. I tried to tell him that it was because tea was too weak everywhere else, but he just kept on laughing. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
As many people have pointed out on social media over the past few days, even if Tom was on deadline, right under the cosh, he would always have the time to answer someone’s question, still with a smile on his face. The outpouring of messages on social media over the past few days says everything.
You can read the last piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal, which was one of his best, and certainly most poignant.
He was a generous, warm soul, great company and my heart breaks for his family.
I hope that last piece, where he detailed his struggle but his appreciation of extra home time because of Covid, will help his young boys as they try to live their lives.
It was a pleasure to know Tom and to call him my friend. I know everyone will miss him.
– Simon Cambers