Posts Tagged Pam Shriver

Lunch With Laver And Conversation With Collins

Bud tells tales at a luncheon. Pam Shriver watches and Bud's wife Anita (seated) listens

Bud tells tales at a luncheon. Pam Shriver watches and Bud’s wife Anita (seated) listens

Rod also listens to Bud after telling his own stories

Rod also listens to Bud after telling his own stories

The day after the latest tennis greats including Martina Hingus had been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was able to attend a luncheon at which Pam Shriver was the mistress of ceremonies. I was directed to an almost empty table and settled down to my lobster roll and potato chips. Within minutes Rod Laver was directed two seats to my right and Bud Collins and his wife were placed directly across. Our conversation was limited of course, and neither had any idea who I was or why I was at their table. But it sure gave me a kick to be breaking “bread” with these stars. Too funny. I love coincidences and random events like these. Keep ’em coming, Lord…

By the way, Bud was one of the first journalists who moved successfully to TV coverage in 1963 and specialized in tennis commentary, wrote books about tennis and wears astonishingly colorful clothes. Check his fashion style out here .

Another acclaimed tennis personality who spoke at the luncheon and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame the day before was TV sportscaster Cliff Drysdale, who co-founded the men’s pro tennis “league” and was the first president of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). In his speech at the ceremony to hundreds–maybe 2000—people, he made fun of one colleague when he said that although he (Cliff) was given five minutes to speak, this named buddy would probably not be able to focus on it after 30 seconds, because he had the “brain and attention span of a mosquito!” When I asked Cliff later about that dig, he said his buddy could handle it. Wow. That’s show biz I guess.

At the luncheon he made fun of another person’s shirt color, and for the rest of the day I heard people mentioning the guy’s shirt and color (it was chartreuse-y). I actually have a shirt almost that exact color, so I was personally offended by Cliff’s ridiculing it (just kidding). But it amazes me that he would be so critical, undiplomatic and insensitive and think it was funny. But then I am not a famous sportscaster and famous tennis executive.

snappy dresser Bud Collins (in orange pants) leaves the ceremony

snappy dresser Bud Collins (in orange pants) leaves the ceremony

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Andre Agassi Inducted Into The International Tennis Hall Of Fame

Andre Agassi and my daughter Skylar

I just spent four breathtakingly fabulous days watching the Campbell’s ATP Tennis tournament at the International
Hall of Fame facility in Newport, RI. And I also played on the grass courts there myself for seven hours during two of the days. (This included a 2 1/2 hour clinic, where I learned many useful tips I am eager to try out.) Prior to this trip, I had only hit on grass one hour in my life. Quite a thrill.

But even more exciting was attending some events that attracted a number of Hall of Famers, particularly this year’s two inductees, Andre Agassi and Peachy Kelmeyer, who launched the WTA and equal rights and prize money for women. Did you know that tennis is the most popular professional women’s sport in the world?

I was privileged to be able to thank Andre (who was sitting five feet from me) at a luncheon for his inspiration and contributions to the game and the world. I also saw and heard speak his wife, Steffi Graff and other previous inductees, including tennis greats Todd Martin, Vic Seixas, Rosie Casals, Donald Dell, Owen Davidson, Pam Shriver, tennis journalist/broadcast commentator Bud Collins, and famed tennis photographer Mike Adams.

Agassi gave a speech that was so emotional and filled with gratitude that some people—including Andre—were tearing up or crying. He said that he had been on the podium there twice before: once to introduce his wife, when she was inducted into the Fall of Fame in 2004, and secondly in his father’s imagination since the day Andre was born. Andre’s speech in the video starts at 10:30. You may want to listen to the first 30 seconds to hear a bit of what Andre has accomplished. A humble man who has given back so much. His foundation and college preparatory academy in Las Vegas that he hopes to replicate in other cities graduates 2000 inner-city kids a year. He has raised $150 million to help transform kids who might never have had a decent education, any self esteem and a chance for college. Andre himself only attended school up to 8th grade.

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