Tennis on CBS

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Tennis on CBS
GenreTennis telecasts
Directed byBob Fishman
Jim Cornell
Presented bySee list of commentators
Opening theme"Center Court" by
E.S. Posthumus[1]
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons46
Executive producerHarold Bryant[2]
ProducersBob Mansbach
David Winner
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time180 minutes or until tournament ends
Production companyCBS Sports
Original networkCBS
CBS Sports Network (2012–2014, 2019-present)
Picture format480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseAugust 31, 1968 (1968-08-31) – September 8, 2014 (2014-09-08)
July 14, 2019 (2019-07-14) – present
Related showsCBS Sports Spectacular
Tennis on ESPN
Tennis on NBC
External links

Tennis on CBS is the branding used for broadcasts of professional tennis tournaments that were produced by CBS Sports, the sports division of the CBS television network in the United States. At the time the network's broadcast agreements with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) ended in 2014, CBS held the broadcast rights to the U.S. Open, the U.S. Open Series and the Sony Ericsson Open. From 1980 to 1982, CBS also televised the French Open[3] (sandwiched in-between stints at NBC). CBS also during the 1970s and 1980s, broadcast the Grand Prix tennis circuit[4][5][6][7][8][9] (including the Pepsi Grand Slam[10][11]). CBS returned to show tennis coverage again after five years, with both World TeamTennis (2019–present) and USA matches at the Davis Cup (2020–present)[12][13]

U.S. Open coverage[edit]

CBS Sports broadcast the first US Open Tennis Championships in 1968.[14] Bud Collins called the action alongside Jack Kramer.[15]

James Wall (best known for playing Mr. Baxter on Captain Kangaroo)[16] was also the stage manager for 41 consecutive years on the US Open Tennis Championships telecasts.[16]

On May 17, 2013, ESPN signed a contract (an 11-year deal at $770 million; about $250 million more than CBS was willing to pay) with the United States Tennis Association that would give it the rights to broadcast the U.S. Open starting in 2015, ending CBS's role[17][18] in covering the tournament after 47 years.[19][20][21] At the end of their 2014 coverage, CBS for their closing credits montage, highlighting the greatest moments during their 47-year run with the US Open, used Alicia Keys's "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down".[22][23]

Without the US Open, CBS's SEC college football coverage was now allowed to start on Labor Day weekend and their National Football League coverage to have a doubleheader in Week 1 of regular season.

Scheduling anomalies[edit]

In 1982, CBS debuted "Super Saturday".[24] The Men's Semifinals sandwiched the Women's Final, with the first semifinal match starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

For the past few decades, the National Football League had always let CBS be the "singleheader" network during the week it televised the Men's US Open Tennis final at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time around the country (CBS has said that it could not justify putting the Men's US Open Final on Sunday night in terms of ratings; the women's final, broadcast on a Saturday night, often outrated the men's final by a considerable margin, except when at least one American plays in the men's final).

All the courts used by the U.S. Open are lighted, meaning that television coverage of the tournament can extend into prime time to attract higher ratings. This has recently been used to the advantage of the USA Network cable channel and especially for CBS, which used its influence to move the women's singles final to Saturday night to draw higher viewership.

Effects from the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon[edit]

For several years, due to the overlapping scheduling of the U.S. Open and the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon on Labor Day weekend, many CBS affiliates had to provide alternate scheduling to accommodate one of the events. This issue was resolved in 2011, when all CBS affiliates that had aired the MDA Telethon became able to air the U.S. Open on Labor Day, as the Muscular Dystrophy Association had decided to reduce the telethon (renamed that year as the MDA Show of Strength) was reduced from a 21½-hour broadcast (lasting from the Sunday night before the holiday to the late-afternoon of Labor Day itself) to a six-hour prime time broadcast (airing only on the night before the holiday).

Some CBS stations arranged for co-owned/managed independent stations and affiliates of smaller networks (such as UPN/MyNetworkTV affiliate WHTV in Lansing, Michigan in lieu of WLNS-TV; Fox affiliate KASA-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico in lieu of KRQE; and MyNetworkTV affiliate WNEM-DT2 in Flint, Michigan in lieu of its parent station's main channel) to carry the network's coverage of the U.S. Open on Labor Day in order to air the telethon.

In other cases, the alternate U.S. Open broadcaster in a given market was unrelated to the local CBS station. In Albany, New York, WB affiliate WEWB-TV (now CW affiliate WCWN, then owned by Tribune Broadcasting) took on the responsibility of airing network coverage of the U.S. Open (as well as other local and network programming) in lieu of Schenectady-based WRGB (then owned by Freedom Communications; WCWN and WRGB are now jointly owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group) through 2004. Time Warner Cable's Capital District system (which carried it on channel 3) took over the local rights to the tournament in 2005, due to a crop of syndicated program premieres on Labor Day that prevented WCWN from airing the tournament.

Additional US Open coverage[edit]

Occasionally, The Late Late Show was split into 15- and 45-minute segments in order to allow CBS to air a daily late-night highlight show for the US Open tennis tournament (as well as the Masters and other PGA Tour events whose broadcast rights are held by CBS). The tournament highlights were broadcast in-between the monologue and the guest segments. However, in mid-2007, the highlights show began airing first, with the full hour of The Late Late Show airing on a delay.

In August 2012, CBS Sports Network began to offer additional coverage of the US Open, including replays of classic matches, coverage of qualifying matches, a pre-match show, and coverage of third- and fourth-round matches not shown by CBS.[25]

Arthur Ashe Kids' Day[edit]

Arthur Ashe Kids' Day is an annual children's event held by the United States Tennis Association that takes place the last Saturday in August at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. The event, which features professional-amateur charity tennis competitions and features performances from popular music artists, was televised by CBS as a tape delayed broadcast the Sunday after the event; the rights to the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day event moved to ESPN as part of its U.S. Open contract.


CBS was the first network to use the MacCam (a system of slow-motion cameras developed by FastCAM Replay LLC and DEL Imaging Systems LLC used during tennis matches to replay close or controversial line calls) widely, as John McEnroe was one of their tennis analysts. The MacCam was first used at the 2004 US Open to demonstrate several poor calls by chair umpires. In Serena Williams' controversial quarterfinal loss to Jennifer Capriati, several poor calls were contested by Williams. Television replays demonstrated that there were actually several crucial calls that were obviously erroneous.

In 2010, CBS broadcast the U.S. Open in 3D on DirecTV N3D.

Controversial moments[edit]

On September 11, 1987, Dan Rather walked off the set in anger just before a remote broadcast of the CBS Evening News when it appeared that CBS's coverage of a U.S. Open semifinal match between Steffi Graf and Lori McNeil was going to run into time allotted for the network news program. Rather was in Miami covering the visit to the city by Pope John Paul II, who began a rare U.S. tour. The tennis match ended at 6:32 p.m. Eastern Time, however Rather was nowhere to be found.[26] Over 100 affiliates broadcast the six minutes of dead air that followed before he returned to the broadcast position. Rather later suggested that he intended to force the sports division to fill up the entire half-hour so that he would not have to truncate the elaborately-planned coverage of the papal visit. The next day, Rather, anchoring from New Orleans, apologized for leaving the anchor desk.

While attending the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City in September 1995, Jane Bronstein, who is rather large and disfigured from childhood polio and a thyroid condition, was pictured in CBS file footage from the tournament. Although the footage was never intended to be shown to the public, a few seconds of it was shown during a segment on the Late Show with David Letterman. The footage showed Bronstein devouring a peach in a matter of seconds and then handing the peach pit to a man seated beside her with a horrified look on his face. Although the audience and Letterman's fans found the clip hilarious, Bronstein and her attorney Harvey Rothberg were not amused and sued for damages in February 1996.[27] The case was settled in March 1997 for undisclosed terms.[28]

On September 14, 2009, Juan Martín del Potro upset Roger Federer to win the Men's U.S. Open Championship. Dick Enberg hosted the post-match ceremony during which a victorious Del Potro requested to address his fans in Spanish. Enberg declined the request saying that he was running out of time, but went on to list the corporate-sponsored prizes that Del Potro won.[29] A couple of minutes later, Del Potro made the same request again and only then Enberg relented saying "Very quickly, in Spanish, he wants to say hello to his friends here and in Argentina". An emotional Del Potro finally spoke a few sentences in Spanish to a cheering crowd. Many viewers expressed disappointment with Enberg and CBS over the interview.[29][30] A CBS executive later defended Enberg, noting that the contract with the United States Tennis Association required that certain sponsors receive time during the ceremony.[31]

In 2010, CBS forced the United States Tennis Association to move the final to Monday out of fear that a relatively short Sunday rain delay was going to knock the Sunday men's final into its prime time lineup (in particular, 60 Minutes). Ironically, the rain by early evening had let up and thus, tennis could have been played. While CBS did get its men's final at 4 p.m. as initially scheduled, another rain delay came about at a little after 6 p.m. By that point however, CBS abandoned its tennis coverage in favor of the CBS Evening News. In the meantime, CBS announced that they wouldn't finish broadcasting the match once the delay had ended. Therefore, viewers had to scramble to ESPN2 to watch the conclusion of that particular Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal final. And since ESPN2 themselves eventually had to redirect to the second half of its Monday Night Football doubleheader, it awkwardly had to cut off from Nadal's post-match ceremony.






  1. ^ "Center Court" by E.S. Posthumus on YouTube
  2. ^ CBS US Open Final Montage on YouTube
  3. ^ Ken Fang (May 23, 2013). "NBC Begins Coverage of The 2013 French Open This Sunday". Fang's Bites. Archived from the original on December 8, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Björn Borg vs Ivan Lendl Masters F 1981 on YouTube
  5. ^ Ashe, Arthur (January 9, 1980). "Masters Tennis Opens for Top 8 Men". Washington Post.
  6. ^ Keiger, Dale (August 1982). "Takin' Care of Business at the ATP". Cincinnati Magazine.
  7. ^ Amdur, Neil (January 20, 1978). "Possible Fault Called on Use of 'Grand Slam' Title". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Arthur Ashe vs McEnroe Final - Grand Prix Masters 1978 on YouTube
  9. ^ Masters 1982 Final - Lendl vs McEnroe - 01/10 on YouTube
  10. ^ Bjorn Borg v Jimmy Connors Pepsi Grand Slam 1977 Final on YouTube
  11. ^ Kirkpatrick, Curry (19 February 1979). "ANOTHER GRAND SLAM IS BID AND MADE". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  12. ^ "World TeamTennis and CBS Sports Partner On Television Agreement". World TeamTennis. 2019-03-07. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  13. ^ "Davis Cup - Where to watch the Davis Cup Qualifiers". Davis Cup. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  14. ^ Ken Fang (September 1, 2014). "The Top Five Moments of the U.S. Open on CBS". Awful Announcing.
  15. ^ History of the US Open on CBS on YouTube
  16. ^ a b "James E. Wall". Honorary Unsubscribe.
  17. ^ "ESPN Will Replace CBS As The Home For The U.S. Open Finals. Thank God". Deadspin.
  18. ^ Richard Sandomir (September 3, 2014). "After Decades on CBS, U.S. Open Will Switch Channels Full Time". The New York Times.
  19. ^ "ESPN to Gain Full Rights to U.S. Open in 2015". The New York Times. May 17, 2013.
  20. ^ Mike Reynolds (August 24, 2014). "CBS Serves Up U.S. Open Farewell". Multichannel News.
  21. ^ Ken Fang (September 11, 2014). "Without big names, U.S. Open men's final draws lowest overnight ratings in 20 years". Awful Announcing.
  22. ^ CBS US Open Final Montage on YouTube
  23. ^ 2014 US Open CBS End Credits Farewell on YouTube
  24. ^ Zemek, Matt (August 30, 2015). "U.S. OPEN SCHEDULE: SUPER SATURDAY IS NOW FULLY BURIED, AS TENNIS MOVES PAST THE 1980S". Awful Announcing.
  25. ^ "CBS Sports Network Augments Lineup with U.S. Open Tennis, PGA Championship Coverage". Multichannel News.
  26. ^ Peter J. Boyer (September 13, 1987). "Rather Walked Off Set of CBS News". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "Jane Bronstein v. David Letterman". Court TV Library.
  28. ^ "Letterman Settles with Peach Lady".
  29. ^ a b "Can I Speak in Spanish?". Straight Sets. The New York Times. September 15, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  30. ^ Zemek, Matt (May 25, 2014). "TENNIS ON TV: 5 EMBARRASSING MOMENTS".
  31. ^ Lynn Zinser (September 15, 2009). "CBS Defends Enberg in Trophy Ceremony Backlash". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  32. ^ "About Newk". John Newcombe Tennis Ranch.
  33. ^ Friedman, Dick (September 5, 1977). "With Her New Sassoon Cut, Designer Duds and Big Serve, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wade? Everyone". People.