Bud Collins, a pioneering tennis reporter, announcer and author who helped popularize the sport and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, died today. He was 86.
Born Arthur Collins on June 17, 1929, in Lima OH, he was covering tennis for the
Boston Globe in the early 1960s when he began appearing on local PBS outlet WGBH, talking about the game he loved while deploying language more associated with classic early sportswriters. By 1968, he was covering tennis on broadcast TV — sporting signature loud pants and bow tie — and working for CBS, NBC, ESPN and PBS in the ensuing decades. He covered Wimbledon for the Peacock network for 35 years until the mid-2000s, moving to ESPN in 2007.
He covered the game as it grew in popularity, helped by the epic rivalries between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, and Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. He also covered such groundbreaking players and personalities as Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King, who he nicknamed “Mother Freedom.”
Collins also wrote 2008’s The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritive Encyclopedia and Record Book, widely regarding as the definitive history of the sport.
Last year, the U.S. Tennis Association named its media center at Flushing Meadows, NY, as the Bud Collins U.S. Open Media Center. He hosted a media tournament at the U.S. Open for years.