50 Years, 50 Heroes: Pam Shriver, 1995

by: Blair Henley | December 13, 2018

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Pam Shriver is always on the hunt for new ways to make a difference. (AP)

For our sixth annual Heroes Issue, we’ve selected passages from the last 50 years of Tennis Magazine and TENNIS.com—starting in 1969 and ending in 2018—to highlight 50 worthy heroes. Each passage acknowledges the person as they were then; each subsequent story catches up with the person, or highlights their impact, as they are now. It is best summed up with a quote from the great Arthur Ashe, that was featured on the cover of the November/December issue of this magazine in 2015: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”


One somewhat frightening aspect of leaving the WTA Tour is the fear of losing contact with all the friends I’ve made over the years. One of the main reasons Martina Navratilova stepped up as president of the WTA Tour Players Association is that she now has the time and she wants to stay involved. Chris Evert and Billie Jean King are also on the board, and I hope that I remain as involved with the sport once I’m off the court as they have since retirement. - Pam Shriver / February 1995

When Pam Shriver’s friends tell her she’s spreading herself too thin, they may be right. At 56 years old, she has packed more charities, causes and board meetings into her post-tennis years than seems humanly possible, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“What inspires me to do anything for the game of tennis is a lifelong love of the sport,” she says. “I loved it from early childhood, and I love it as a parent seeing my kids when they play and they enjoy it.”

Shriver set a high standard of service during her 18-year playing career. When she was 24, she kicked off a charity event in her hometown of Baltimore, MD, that ran for 25 years and raised over $4
million. She also served as president of the WTA Tour Players Association and launched the Pam Shriver Fund, which provides grants to various charities around the country.

When Shriver retired in 1997, she had won 22 Grand Slam doubles titles, an Olympic gold medal and spent 44 weeks atop the doubles rankings. Also a Top 5 singles player, she had plenty of reason to step away from the frenetic pace of the pro game. Instead, she immediately became the first elite athlete to serve on the USTA board of directors, and dove headfirst into a broadcasting career.

Perhaps best known for her work as a roving interviewer and commentator for ESPN, Shriver is just as comfortable chatting with US Open regular Alec Baldwin in the stands as she is conducting a post-match interview. She can talk tennis with anyone, and she has plenty to say.

“One of my big theories is that the more sports we can get our young people to play at an early age, the better athletes we’ll have,” says Shriver, who also played basketball in high school. “Let’s not look at it as a competitive thing where it’s tennis against the world. We should be partnering with basketball, pickleball, volleyball and soccer because we are all in the same struggle to keep people active.”

Currently serving on several boards and the recipient of too many awards and honors to mention, including an International Tennis Hall of Fame induction in 2002, Shriver’s priority will always be her three children. With one of her two sons recently diagnosed with Type I diabetes and a daughter on the autism spectrum, her eyes have been opened to a new world of not-for-profit causes and support communities.

True to form, Shriver is currently on the hunt for new ways to make a difference. Like her American contemporaries who still pour themselves into charity work, Shriver is proud of the precedent she has helped create. 

 “Players born in the U.S. at a certain time in women’s tennis had a culture that was more sympathetic and understanding in embracing charities and philanthropic work,” she says. “I think we have all set really good examples.”

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