Bud Collins, the legendary tennis reporter who was a fixture of NBC’s Wimbeldon tennis coverage through four decades, passed away at his Brookline, Mass. home on Friday, March 4 at the age of 86.
Arthur Worth “Bud” Collins Jr. was born in Lima, Ohio on June 17, 1929 and grew up in Berea, an Ohio suburb. After graduating Baldwin-Wallace College, he attended Boston University for graduate school in order to study journalism. During his time as a BU student, he was a sports writer for the Boston Herald, covering the sport of tennis. Collins was also then part of a duo that won the United States Indoor mixed doubles tennis title, and later, from 1959-63, he was a tennis coach at Brandeis University.
Beginning in 1963, Collins would work for the Boston Globe where he’d work at that newspaper for the next 48 years. His main focus was tennis but he also covered baseball’s Boston Red Sox in 1967 and boxing’s “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974 as well as local politics. In 1967, Collins ran for Boston mayor.
The 60’s were also the decade Collins began TV work. He provided tennis commentary for WGBH, a PBS station in Boston. He later worked with CBS for its U.S. Open tennis tournaments before landing at NBC in 1972 for Wimbeldon where he garnered the most notoriety, as the sport rose in popularity throughout the 70’s and 80’s in the U.S. He was a part of NBC’s Wimbledon telecasts through to 2007.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King tweeted, “Few people have had the historical significance, the lasting impact, and the unqualified love for tennis as Bud Collins… He was an outstanding journalist, an entertaining broadcaster, and as our historian he never let us forget or take for granted the rich history of our sport.’’
Another tennis legend Chris Evert said that “tennis was very lucky to have [Collins.] His life commitment was to the sport of tennis, and his writing was witty. He made the players come alive with his writing. I just loved him.’’
Collins was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994, won the prestigious Red Smith Award from the Associated Press in 1999, and elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2002. In September 2015, the media center at the U.S. Open Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. was officially named in Collins’ honor.
Collins was survived by his wife Anita, daughter Suzanna, seven stepchildren and eleven grandchildren.