Tennis Prose



Random Stuff: Seles’ Lambourghini, Sampras’ Donation, BG’s Career Highlight & More

I found this quote the late artist LeRoy Neiman told me a few years ago when we were talking tennis…

“I read a Pete Sampras interview, they asked Pete what have you learned in particular during this successful career? He said, ‘There’s a lot of dishonest people.’ How do you like that? Ain’t that a helluvan answer?”

Karol Kucera’s best match: “Beating Sampras ’98 in Australian Open quarters. I felt strong, I felt quick, luck was on my side. Everything I hit, the net (cord), it was going over, every shot was going close to the line, was good. I felt it before the match. My confidence was very high because I won a tournament before (Sydney Outdoor), I won a lot of matches. I was top 10 at the time.” reader and friend “Steve” kindly gave me a Sampras-Gilbert DVD of the Grand Slam Cup final from 1990 after he learned I had never seen BG play (Thanks Steve). Gilbert’s game was impressive as he aced Sampras several times and looked very competent from the baseline, a lot of fight, but he didn’t have the firepower to subdue Sampras.

Sampras in action was a marvel to see though. Every movement flowed with an artistry yet he could strike with lethal power in an instant, like a cobra.

You forget how good Sampras was in his early pro days. People call Federer living art but let’s not forget, Sampras was about just as elegant. On one point in the second set, Pete followed a serve and hit a high backhand volley while airborn, of course the shot was placed perfectly into the left corner of the court. Such a difficult shot but Sampras made it look naturally easy.

Mary Carillo teamed with Cliff Drysdale and Fred Stolle for ESPN. Carillo was really a pleasure to listen to back then, as she was very personally interactive with the players, picking up all sorts of nuggets of information. She told an anecdote about her asking Sampras how much money was in his wallet. Sampras responded about $50 or $60 and that the most cash he ever had in his pocket was $100. She also added that he was thinking about buying a Mercedes 500 if he won the million dollar prize for winning the Compaq Grand Slam Cup which was held in Munich.

Another anecdote Carillo shared during the telecast was about Monica Seles. Carillo said Seles was considering buying a Lambourghini because it would help her get “more boyfriends.”

Gilbert said after in his runner-up speech that the week in Munich was his “career highlight.” Later in his interview with Carillo BG jokingly asked Fred (Stolle) what he would have done against an opponent who is playing so well as Sampras. Stolle concurred that maybe BG, after only getting three hours of sleep after the rigorous five-set win over David Wheaton the previous day, should have “stayed in bed.”

Sampras made a classy gesture after, donating a “quarter of a million dollars” of his two-million jackpot to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, as he said two of his father’s sisters succumbed to that disease.

The 19-year-old Sampras showed almost no emotion after winning the title, I’ve seen hacker player get more excited winning a meaningless bragging rights friendly at the park. Sampras cool and focus were remarkable to see.


  • Steve · October 8, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Yeah, Sampras may have not been a huge tipper according to Agassi but that donation he made with his Slam Cup winnings was a good thing to do.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Steve; $250,000 to a Cerebral Palsy charity foundation when you’re 19 years old is quite a showing of consideration and generosity. I always liked Pete, after Rios he was my guy of this era. Another thing worth mentioning from the match was when BG gave Pete that ace early in the third set, Pete thought it was good, BG looked around for a few seconds then conceded the point and the chair umpire Bruno Rebueh accepted it even though he didn’t overule it in the first place. BG impressed in many ways in that match, thanks again for sharing it Steve.

  • Steve · October 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    That was big of BG esp. when playing for a million bucks.

  • Gans · October 10, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Scoop, I agree with you. Pete was an incredible champion who did all the talking with his racket. Wise people talk less and do more.

    Most people who claim Pete to be a bad tipper probably listen to Agassi or because they were Agassi fans.

    I remember the infamous incident during the charity match between Sampras-Fed vs. Agassi-Nadal. Justin Gimelstob covered the match on court.

    After Agassi insulted Sampras during the match it was Justin’s turn to insult Pete during the post-match interview when he said, “Pete, that may have happened once but am sure you have been generous numerous times but no one is more generous than Andre”.

    Andre had a chance to show some dignity by apologizing to Pete in front of the crowd, but he didn’t and remained silent to Justin’s comments. Agassi is a showman and he probably hates Pete for obvious reasons. It showed that day. That’s cheap, not a sign of class or generosity.

    I am sure Pete has given a lot but w/o much publicity. And to me that’s generous.



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