ESPN and ABC's coverage of Wimbledon should make American tennis fans angry

Tennis used to be a well-respected sport by American broadcasters. That has certainly changed as proved by the Wimbledon coverage.
Coco Gauff at Wimbledon 2024
Coco Gauff at Wimbledon 2024 / Robert Prange/GettyImages

There used to be a time when American television broadcasters made things easier for tennis fans. We knew Bud Collins would be calling tennis matches for tennis and we knew he and his partner, Dick Enberg, would be brilliant. That was mostly with NBC and mostly during a time when American men were battling for majors.

That last part is key. While American women have not truly stopped contending for majors, broadcasters seem to want to sell men's tennis more. They believe this because they have gotten more marketing money in the past. Things changed a bit with Serena Williams and the overall failure of American men.

But now, ESPN and ABC seem to have no idea what to do with their tennis coverage. They obviously care more about commercials than tennis because ESPN, specifically, comes back late from commercial breaks often. In Monday's fourth-round Wimbledon match between Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev, there were several times a game had been started before the television feed came back.

ESPN and ABC should turn Wimbledon coverage over to the Tennis Channel

Imagine that happening in an NFL or NBA game. Fans would be so up in arms that the networks would likely issue an immediate apology. Basketball and football are bigger in the United States and therefore, the networks are more attuned to what fans' responses are. With tennis? Meh. The networks probably think we are lucky to even watch it at all.

There is nothing wrong with the specific commentators. Love him or hate him, John McEnroe brings a flare that few can match. Chris Evert's class exudes from the studio and during matches. They are not the issue.

Over the weekend, ESPN and ABC very much wanted viewers to see the great American hope at Wimbledon, Coco Gauff, so much that they kept telling us Gauff was coming up "soon." Tennis fans understand the reality of the sport, though: Tennis has no real clock. A match could run for two hours or five. Broadcasters do not like this, though.

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Gauff's match got pushed back because earlier matches went long. The end of Emma Raducanu and Lulu Sun went so far past ESPN's cut-off that the coverage of that match ended up on ABC. A split broadcast, that's always a win.

Sure, fans can stream Wimbledon, but some still watch on broadcasters. ESPN and ABC should just leave Wimbledon alone if they are going to cause havoc with viewers (which, in turn, cuts down on viewers) and let the real pros like the Tennis Channel handle the tournament. American tennis fans would likely appreciate that.

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