Bud Collins: Tennis was just an accident
Originally published on: 20/09/12 00:00
I live with my wife, Anita Klaussen, in Boston. Nice house, ten minutes from the tennis club. She does a beautiful garden and she’s probably the best cook in Boston.
There’s more interest in tennis I think in England than there is in the US. We have so many different sports that it’s very hard.
I haven’t played for a couple of years because of a hip problem. I’m intending to play once this season is over. I was what you’d call a good club player. I beat Jean Borotra, Jaroslav Drobny and a few others who were past their prime!
I was in the army for a while and I always wanted to be a sports writer so I went to Boston University for a year and worked as a copy boy at the Boston Herald. They let me cover things once in a while. The sports editor, I guess, liked my work and he assigned me to the boxing beat. Turned out it was wonderful stuff to write about. I covered a lot of Muhammad Ali’s fights.
Tennis was just an accident. They had no-one else to cover it and nobody wanted to cover it. Then television came along. They were doing some tennis on TV in Boston and they asked me if I’d like to be the commentator. It was pretty awful!
Looking back, 1968 was the turning point in my life. CBS said, ‘Would you like to work for us,’ and I said, ‘Sure, if I can continue working for the Boston Globe.’ I started a television career which changed my life.
I feel I have been very lucky. I do a good job, but I was in the right place at the right time.
Most press conferences are a waste of time. ‘How do you feel?’ Or ‘How did it go today?’ Something like that. It’s harder now because the players give you a five-minute press conference and that’s enough. But it’s not enough and they’re not getting good advice form their handlers.
Players used to be much more accessible. You could say, ‘Let’s sit down and talk,’ and they were glad of the attention.
The best you can do is to be the best of your era. If you pin me down and say, ‘You must give me one name,’ then I say Rod Laver because he won two [calendar] Grand Slams.
Who knows what Roger Federer would have done with a wooden racket. He would have done well, of course, but perhaps not all the records.
I wrote The History of Tennis, and I’ve been a ghost writer – I wrote Laver’s book, Evonne Goolagong’s. And my own memoir, which is pretty old by now. I think I’ll do another memoir. And like everybody else, I’ve started a novel. But I haven’t got very far.
«Ñ_It’s been fun. I’ve got to do more things than I ever imagined.
Bud Collins spoke to tennishead magazine in Volume 2, Issue 6. To subscribe to the magazine, follow this link.