Originally created 06/30/00

Courier says sport needs to wake up



WIMBLEDON, England -- Jim Courier wants the tennis establishment to wake up and start promoting the game better.

"There have been some people asleep at the wheel as far as publicizing the game and getting the proper media access to players," he said. "It's something I've learned, and it's a big mistake."

Courier, a four-time Grand Slam champion, is now on the other side of the divide separating top players from the media. He retired last month and made his debut as a TV analyst at Wimbledon for the cable network TNT.

He was considered among the most articulate players in tennis but had a strained relationship with the media for most of his 13-year career. He admits he could have been more cooperative.

"Now I'm seeing the big picture in a clearer fashion and observing other sports and how they do it," he said. "We have a lot to improve within the hierarchy.

"The players have personalities, but it's not only up to players to show personality. It's the responsibility of the agents, the ATP Tour and the federations to show a young player who is only concerned with tennis he needs to spend three or four days a year doing media days, photo shoots, getting on magazine covers and going on David Letterman."

Courier, 29, said he has enjoyed the transition from player to TV analyst and has no regrets about retirement. He decided early this year it was time to quit and made the announcement May 9.

Courier's TNT colleague, Marv Albert, said Courier has a bright future in television.

"He's a natural for this business," Albert said. "He has opinions and a sense of humor and expresses himself so well, and he doesn't shy away."

As part of the generation of American men's champions that also included Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang, Courier was the first to earn the No. 1 ranking and the first to quit.