Some called him an icon, others a legend. Everyone marveled at his zany pants, his on-air vocabulary, his extraordinary way with words and his willingness—even desire—to be accessible.
But to me he wasn’t Bud Collins, tennis historian and all-around bon vivant, Hall of Famer and the greatest promoter the game has ever known. To me, he was simply Arthur, my mentor, my longtime colleague and, most important, one of my dearest friends.
I don’t know when we first started calling each other by our given names, but I do know that we always greeted each other as Arthur, as in Arthur Worth Collins Jr., and Cynthia, my seldom-used birth name. It was sacred and secret, as if no one else was in on the joke.
I first met Arthur in back in 1979 when I was a college student and summer intern at World Tennis magazine in New York. Like he has done for so many others, Arthur took me under his wing without even knowing me, taught me the proper etiquette for my profession and how to be heard while asking a question in a crowded press room.
Arthur included me in dinners at Santa Croce in London after a long day at Wimbledon, and picnics on an outdoor porch that once existed just outside the press room high atop Louis Armstrong Stadium. He showed me the sunset over the ocean at the Colony Club in Longboat Key, Fla., and taught me how to play grass-court tennis—even though I always kept my sneakers on and Arthur preferred to play barefoot.
Arthur introduced me to every top player and official in the game, as well as to the best journalists in the world, many of whom, like George Vecsey and Neil Amdur of the New York Times, Bill Dwyre of the LA Times, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, John Feinstein of the Washington Post and famed player/commentator Mary Carillo, have become lifelong friends.