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Posted on: April 30th, 20303

Wherefore art thou, Pete? [May 2, 2003]

- petepage

Sampras silent on whether he’ll retire

BUD Collins, May 2 - I don’t suppose Pete Sampras ever intended to be the mystery man of tennis, the D.B. Cooper of the courts, a subject for one of those "Where are they now?" features that track down somebody famous long ago. But Sampras’ silence about his future has been surprising and it’s time for it to end.

We know that Sampras is alive and well-fixed in the Los Angeles area and hasn’t become amnesiac as far as hitting tennis balls goes, which he used to do awfully well.

I have this marvelous memory of a man reborn eight months ago at a place called Flushing Meadows, breaking from a dry spell worse than Prohibition to brilliantly win the U.S. Open after suffering through 33 tournaments without a victory.

That was Pete Sampras winning his 14th major, fattening his all-time record.

And then? What for an encore? Silence.

Except for notifying tournament directors, one after another, like dominos that he won’t be there, canceling his entries.

He won’t be in Rome for the Italian Open - a tournament that many forget was his property in 1994, despite his seeming allergy to clay.

Not a day passes that someone doesn’t ask me: "Will Pete give Wimbledon another shot?"

If he could win at Flushing, his fans reason, isn’t there an eighth Wimbledon title within the lean, supple frame of a man more destructive on grass than a herd of Japanese beetles?

They know Sampras has entered the Wimbledon lead-up tourney at Queen’s Club in London and they wonder if that’s enough preparation for him.

Or will Queen’s and the Big W just come and go without him?

Well, Pete, stop being a naughty, unresponsive boy.

You have a loyal public deserving of some answers.

The only fitting and proper thing to do is call a press conference and tell us one of three things: You’re retiring and thus ending an illustrious career, having earned a place among the all-time greats and certainly an alcove in the International Tennis Hall of Fame five years hence.

Or tell us you’re not retiring and have a time table a "road map" - is the current popular phrase - for restoring yourself to the game where there is more for you to accomplish even though you’re 32 and wealthy enough to buy one of the Greek islands.

You could also tell us that you’re confused, pondering and don’t know what to do.

The last seems pretty obvious, but let us know. We’ll understand.

For my part I would hope to see Sampras play again.

I could never understand those who thought him dull.

For me the smoothness of Silky Sampras, his fluidity, his volleying legerdemain was exciting and set him apart in a game where the volley, sadly, seems as extinct as the Edsel.

He was the tennis version of DiMaggio in his ease at play with his modest manner.

So, what will it be, Pete? Give us a hint.

Source: NBC sports

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