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Pete Sampras

The first man in the history of tennis to win 14 Grand Slam Championships

When examining the careers of the greats in the history of American men in the world of tennis, the first names that come to mind are guys like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Going back further, so many bring up names like Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Don Budge and even Bill Tilden. But, one of the most overlooked names comes from the recent past – Pete Sampras. Not a very “colorful” personality. But the fact is, when you look at the numbers, the most important tournaments – Grand Slam events – until he retired after the 2003 season, no one in the history of men’s tennis had ever won more than Sampras’s 14. He won Wimbledon seven times, the U.S. Open five times and the Australian Open two times. So, what’s the knock? Why do so few recall the career of Sampras or put him up against guys like Connors or McEnroe?  It’s a combination of the following four points: 1.) he didn’t play for an extended period of time, just 14 years … 2.) he never won the French Open … 3.) he was not fiery. He did not have that kind of personality. Many thought of him as a robot. He just went out and won, and was not very boisterous or vocal about it … and 4.) his reign as the all-time leader in Grand Slam victories was quite short. Steve Flink, a terrific tennis journalist joins me on this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, to discuss the career of Pete Sampras. Steve recently releases a wonderful book about Pete, “Pete Sampras, Greatness Revisited” in which he spoke to Pete about his career and also spoke to many of his contemporaries and rivals, all of spoke very highly of Sampras and just how great a player he was. Really a terrific read. Steve and I talk about Pete’s climb to the top of the tennis world and just how strong and dominant his game was.

Links:

Pete Sampras USTA Overview

Pete Sampras Hall of Fame

Pete Sampras Highlights

Pete Sampras Grand Slam Highlights

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