Does Justin Gimelstob Deserve Our Sympathy?

The verdict is in on the Justin Gimelstob criminal court case. The former pro tennis player pleaded no contest in a Los Angeles court on Monday to a felony battery charge for his part in a physical altercation on Halloween night last year. The judge, Upinder Kalra, then reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and sentenced Gimelstob to three years’ probation and 60 days of community service. Gimelstob did not deny that he had hit Randall Kaplan, a former friend of Gimelstob’s and a current close friend of his ex-wife, Cary Sinnott, but said he was provoked by derogatory remarks Kaplan had made about his father, Barry Gimelstob, who had died suddenly four days before. Gimelstob is locked in a bitter custody battle over their 5-year-old son.

Gimelstob’s lawyer, Michael Kump, said in a statement that Gimelstob, who also will be required to take an anger management course, had pleaded no contest to “move on with his professional life and focus on his family.”

Should Gimelstob deserve our sympathy and be able to resume his roles as a tennis commentator on Tennis Channel as an ATP board member? “I’m not saying that I am perfect or that I shouldn’t have handled that night differently,” Gimelstob said in an interview last month. “I should have. I would give anything to undo it. I’d give every dollar that I have to take that five minutes back. But I didn’t do what he said, and my whole life and my whole career and my relationship with my son should not be ended because of it.”

The judge stated that Gimelstob will be back in court contesting the case in front of a jury trial if he portrays himself in public as being innocent of the charges made against him. There are signs that the former French Open Mixed Doubles champ alongside Venus Williams, will try to portray himself as the victim. As he entered the courtroom, Gimelstob handed the Telegraph sports’ reporter some printed pictures from Madison Kaplan’s Instagram account, saying the photographs of the couple holidaying and at a birthday party since Hallowe’en showed that the attack had little affect on them. Madison Kaplan had stated during the court case that she miscarried shortly after the incident and her doctor told her that seeing Gimelstob attack her husband could definitely have offset the miscarriage.

Does Gimelstob deserve the tennis public’s sympathy and forgiveness and to resume his roles in tennis prior to his attack? John Isner, who was coached by Gimelstob, thinks so, stating, “He’s going through a tough time on a lot of fronts,” Isner said. “But he’s a very loyal guy, and he goes up against the tournament representatives and goes to bat for us players. He’s stubborn and tenacious. That’s the reason he’s been in the position he’s been in for quite some time.”

Gimelstob has always had a violent streak and perhaps that was because as an article on the web site, Deadspin, stated, his father, Barry Gimelstob, was arrested in 1995 for chasing his own wife with scissors, holding a butcher knife to her throat, and threatening to kill her? Gimelstob has been in therapy since his father’s death and wants the chance to redeem himself personally and professionally, saying, “I wouldn’t be the first person who’s had a major issue, extenuating circumstances and ascended to tremendous positions of responsibility, power and leadership. I could turn it around, and I think that would be one of my greatest, most proud accomplishments.”

Where do Tennis-Prose readers stand on the Gimelstob saga?


  • Scoop Malinowski · April 27, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Did Gimelstob defend Ray Moore and Doug Adler when they were run out of the sport for far less offenses? Of did he grandstand against them?

  • Dan Markowitz · April 27, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Do you know the answer to that question? I don’t. Gimelstob shouldn’t have been put on the air after what he said about Kournikova in the radio interview he did where he said he wanted to hit Anna with a ball and have his brother have sex with her. The leniency towards Gimelstob and his family–his brother once committed vehicular manslaughter, but got off–has been established a long time ago. Frankly, his actions on the court were often over the top.

    But he got an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno partially on his bad-boy, say-anything character and though he didn’t have the talent of his Eastern predecessor in that attitude, John McEnroe, Gimelstob has led his personal life in a way much more brazenly than McEnroe, who’s dirty laundry if he had any, (there were reports of a cocaine habit and his marriage and divorce to Tatum O’Neal were not pretty), did not reach the public’s view as has Gimelstob’s.

    The law has seemed to say Gimelstob after he does his community service and anger management course can go back to living his life the way he chooses. I, for one, will probably accept him back in the role he plays in my life, as a tennis broadcaster, but will others who are Tennis Channel devotees and how about the players who he leads on the ATP Board?

  • Hartt · April 27, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    His actions were so reprehensible that I don’t think he deserves another chance. He has already had a second chance more than once. How can people ever forget that he made a “vicious unprovoked attack in public in front of children” in the words of the judge? His victim feared for his life, and according to the man’s wife, Gimelstob only stopped the attack when he was warned that the police were coming.

    And how would you like to be an employee at the Tennis Channel or the ATP? You would be afraid to cross Gimelstob, knowing how violent he can be.

  • Gans · April 27, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    The fact that we are asking this question itself is silly.
    If he is guilty (if he is), I am surprised why he isn’t in jail?
    He should be jailed for 3 years and do commmunity service.
    It is sad that Isner still has him as his coach. That’s at least an individual choice.
    I wonder if Tennis Channel and ATP or any other organization have any ethics committee. After he serves his time in prison, community service and openly apologizes to his former friend and his wife and children and to Tennis Channel and to the fans and his admirers (like me) then he can be considered for maybe a job as a linesman or a ball boy or a guy who cleans the court. Not a leader again!
    Also he needed to be treated for his mental ailment. If the sickest runs in his family, I can empathize with it but we cannot put up with it. We cannot have sick people be a coach or a leader.
    Violence is dangerous and absolutely unnecessary in a society.
    Just my humble opinion.

  • Gans · April 27, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    We have to be sure before we accuse someone. That’s why I said used the words, “If he is guilty”.

    Brushing aside a violent behavior and not addressing the problem is like carrying a time bomb with us.
    Treat them and release back into the world until they are ready. That’s the best and only course of action.
    Community service is not enough and garbage. Also,what is 3 years probation?

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 27, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Well said as always Gans, common sense, but I almost expected you to express it in poetry 🙂 Gimelstob is a ticking time bomb until the next explosion. For the ATP and Tennis Channel to defend and protect the next and worst explosion is insanity. Sure, give him a job in tennis after a long break but not with any power or influence. He has proven he is not fit to lead a magnificent beautiful sport like tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 27, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Three years probation is a slap on the wrist for possible attempted murder. I wonder if the tennis establishment would still be protecting and defending Gimelstob if he indeed murdered Kaplan? Wonder if BJK, Carillo, Courier, Evert, Haber, Annacone would dare to say something truthful about Gimelstob if he murdered Kaplan.

  • Franklin · April 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    I think he deserves a second chance. There has to be a reason that people like Darren Cahill, Martina, Isner, Chris Evert, Jack Sock and many others in the U.S. tennis community speak so highly of him. Certainly he isn’t perfect and this is a stain he will carry for the rest of his life.

    Gimbelstob should have handled the insult about his father dying better. And as Jon Wertheim noted, the judge reduced the charge to a misdemeanor so it shows that he is not really at fault completely. Gimbelstob was an overachiever as a player and now has made a name for himself as a tennis commentator and executive; he is en route to become a Hall of Famer in the sport for his overall contributions.

    There probably isn’t a more important figure in American tennis than Gimbelstob, so he should be given another chance. Everyone makes mistakes and he has plenty of supporters in the tennis community to ensure he will shape up.

  • catherine · April 28, 2019 at 1:55 am

    Scoop – If Gimelstob were sacked he’d only sue for wrongful dismissal and the whole saga would just run and run. That may be at the back of people’s minds. And in law once he’s served his sentence he’ll be as free as the next person and he’s not doing a job where a criminal record is a bar to employment. So don’t see anything else happening to G for the time being.

    Otherwise – is anyone here interested in what’s going on in European tournaments ? I know there’s a time difference but often it seems I’m the only one following – or the only one commenting. Or maybe people feel there’s nothing to say.

  • catherine · April 28, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Gas – Gimelstob pleaded ‘no contest’ – which is equivalent, as far as I know, to saying ‘I’m not saying ‘not guilty” so in the eyes of the court he gets a punishment. The judge gave him what was deemed appropriate. The case is closed.

    He’s not going to prison but he does have to attend anger management courses.

  • catherine · April 28, 2019 at 2:33 am

    I mean ‘Gans’ of course.

  • catherine · April 28, 2019 at 6:17 am

    I’m no lawyer but the ‘nolo contendere’ plea seems to involve an acceptance of punishment for the act and also has repercussions if a civil action is later brought. This thinking might have played a part in Gimelstob’s case. Any legal experts please correct me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 28, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Sam, Gimelstob was a good tv analyst and he has had a good illustrious career. But to be a leader in the sport, hes unfit. There are so many better qualified, upstanding citizens to be on the ATP board of directors, people like Tim Mayotte, Todd Martin, jan Michael gambill, brian baker. Gimelstob needs to step back and try to take time off to rehab his character and anger management issues.

  • Hartt · April 28, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Catherine, I am watching the European tourneys, even though it meant getting up at 5:00 am a couple days. But my computer was on the fritz for a while, so I couldn’t post. Now it is magically back to life, and I will be posting about today’s matches under Scoop’s Tallahassee piece.

  • catherine · April 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Hartt I hope you get treats in Stuttgart 🙂

    Petra played very well for the two sets she won yesterday so I’m hoping she can take home a Porsche.

  • Dan Markowitz · April 28, 2019 at 12:42 pm


    I think you’re going a little overboard calling Gimelstob a Hall of Famer and saying no one is bigger in American tennis than Gimelstob. I won’t comment on his ATP Board role because I don’t know how good he is at or what he actually does. The players seem to like him because he negotiates with the tournaments I gather and gets the players more money. So you can see why they’d like him around.

    But there is no bigger ass-kisser in the game than Gimelstob. He’s the Grand Slam winner of ass-kissing. He practically drivels in his admiration and praise of Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish. I’m glad those players retired because I couldn’t take Gimel seriously he’s so pro-American when he would commentate on their matches.

    Look, the guy should be praised for how much he seemingly loves tennis and has parlayed his so-so career into roles as a coach and management head. Also, he came out of New Jersey, a state virtually unknown for pro tennis grooming. But I find what he said about Kournikova way over the line and this incident, I don’t understand at all. How can you not serve jail time when you hit someone over the head 50 times for apparently no other reason than he insulted your recently-passed father. I have a big temper too, but I hope I’d never attack another person when not provoked by physical violence.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 28, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Franklin almost sounds like a paid shill to rebuild Gimelstob’s image. A little too over flowery and blind to the absolute violent insanity he perpetrated. If Gimelstob murdered Kaplan I think Franklin would have found a silver lining to still sing praises for Gimelstob.

  • Hartt · April 28, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    How do we know that Kaplan even said anything about Gimelstob’s father? That is Gimelstob’s version.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 28, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Agree Hartt, I find it very hard to believe any respectable human being would verbalize insults about someone’s recently passed father. Sounds more like damage control to try to justify insane actions. Not buying that. A desperate crazed man will say or do anything to save himself.



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