I'm going to take a page
from my broski and look at this year's Wimbledon coverage in a Good, Bad, & Ugly sort of way. If you've been watching the last couple days with the insanely confusing what, when, and where of trying to watch live tennis, you may have missed some of the better aspects of Wimbledon coverage this year. With all due respect to the US Open, Wimbledon is the marquee tennis tournament of the year, and we're here to break it down.The Good
The broadcast talent at Wimbledon and in tennis as a whole is vastly underrated. At NBC, John McEnroe is one of the best analysts in all of sports, period. Mary Carillo is also widely praised although I'm not as high on her as most. Where the depth of announcers really shine though is ESPN. They made a fantastic decision to bring back a favorite of mine, Chris Evert
, to the booth and her pairing with the retiring Dick Enberg has been pleasant.
ESPN finds its strength in the amount of platforms available to televise live sports. In contrast with NBC (more on that in a bit), this ability is only more appreciated. The sheer amount of live tennis on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3.com and other sources is impressive. To fill that time, ESPN has to employ a lot of on-air personalities to present the coverage. You can go up and down the ESPN roster and find solid contributions from each television commentator. Mary Jo Fernandez, Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, and Chris Fowler are just a few of the cast of thousands that do well with the Wimbledon coverage. Unlike ESPN's other properties (see: NFL), the bluster and fake laughter is kept to a minimum and it's the tennis that takes center stage
. What a novel concept.
The pair for me that stood out in particular was Patrick McEnroe and Brad Gilbert
. In the early rounds, the pair would skip through several matches happening at the same time and were always entertaining and informative. It was much like the old days of the NCAA Tournament, going to different courts at key moments in various matches. I found their commentary during the great Tsonga-Dimitrov 2nd Round match to be very good. P-Mac isn't as well known as his brother, but he can fill both pbp and analyst positions and Gilbert brings (eccentric) energy and strong knowledge. Like the World Cup, Wimbledon coverage shows that televised sports is at its best when the focus is left on what we came to watch in the first place, sports.