Bud Collins, ‘The Best Friend Tennis Ever Had,’ Dies at 86

By Mark Joyella 

tumblr_lmpyakuMT81qdbf5lo1_400Bud Collins, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who covered tennis for 35 years at NBC before moving to ESPN, has died. He was 86.

“He was the best friend tennis ever had,” Mike Lupica wrote in the New York Daily News. “I have said this about others before him, just never with more feeling than I do today: He is not just survived by Anita, and step-children, and grandchildren. Bud Collins is survived by the sport of tennis.”

Collins, known both for his colorful pants and ties as for his role as the face of NBC’s Breakfast at Wimbledon. Collins covered the tournament 44 times. “A legend and a gentleman with a unique style, Bud’s analysis and on-court interviews were must-see TV for millions of American tennis fans,” a spokesperson for NBC Sports said a statement. “In more than three decades with NBC Sports, he was a beloved colleague and friend. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.”


At the Tennis Channel, president Ken Solomon described Collins as an icon and a trailblazer:

“The game’s most passionate, pioneering voice, and the gentleman who introduced this great sport to so many over the decades. Our network, televised tennis and sports coverage in general owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Bud’s effortless blending of traditional newsprint storytelling with a then nascent television medium as it gained ever increasing importance on the American cultural landscape. In doing so he elevated tennis to a previously unimaginable plane of awareness and enjoyment for fans the world over.”

No cause of death was released, but in his reflection, Mike Lupica described a fall Collins had months ago that led to a series of painful complications.