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USA Network airs special feature on Pete and his French Open quest


spirit of true champion

He came to Paris hoping for the best, and again got the worse from the tournament that has year in and year out left him disappointed. After eleven tireless tries his failures at Roland Garros must be becoming more torturous each passing Spring. His window of opportunity narrowing.

For the greatest player of his generation, the city of lights has flickered to darkness, in a career that has been one of the brightest in tennis history. He has lost here in all kinds of conditions, on different courts, to well known opponents, and to those barely a blip on the tennis radar.

Yet through it all, Pete Sampras keeps the poise of a champion, maintaining the makeup of his own high standard. There have been no tantrums, complaints, or excuses. Just the vow to return next year, and try again. And that - after all - is what champions do. They persevere.

This year he arrived in Paris with limited match play on the surface that has mystified him. He also brought the determination to try and will his way to the one thing so far unattainable. He left, haunted by an unlucky draw, and a man who, just played better - if narrowly, in the tournament's best match.

Immediately following his bitter loss Sampras again showed us all why his character is as rock solid as his game. Politely he met the press, answered their questions, and showed us the dignity that the record books will never define.

So with the tournament's final weekend fast approaching and Pete Sampras long gone, we pause to say - thanks Pete - for always showing us the right way to win and the right way to lose. Thanks for embodying the SPIRIT OF A TRUE CHAMPION. 

(Aired: June 8, 2000 / Transcript supplied by Laura D.)


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