Let’s just say that ESPN sounds pretty pleased at having brought Bud Collins on-board.

Here is their press release from today:

“Renowned newspaper and television tennis journalist Bud Collins has joined ESPN and will appear on ESPN2’s extensive coverage of Grand Slam events – the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon – beginning in 2008. He also will report for SportsCenter, ESPNEWS and ESPN Radio from the US Open starting this year and throughout the year as tennis news dictates.

Collins is a virtual institution in sport. Working for the Boston Globe since 1963, his first beat was boxing where he covered most of Muhammad Ali’s fights, including the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle.” He covered everything from baseball to hockey to dog shows, as well as the Viet Nam war. At the same time, he pioneered tennis coverage on television working for WGBH in Boston from 1963-1988 and later for CBS (1968 – 1972) and NBC (1972 – 2007) where he covered tennis around the world.

In 1994, Collins was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and in 1999 was presented with the prestigious Red Smith Award, the outstanding award in sports journalism. His insights – along with his creative wardrobe; flamboyant delivery; and the unique nicknames he gives players, such as Lord of the Swings (Roger Federer), Mother Freedom (Billie Jean King), Brash Basher of Belleville (Jimmy Connors), Sisters Sledgehammer (The Williams sisters), Barcelona Bumblebee (Arantxa Sanchez Vicario), Chris America (Chris Evert), Fraulein Forehand (Steffi Graf), and The Siberian Siren (Maria Sharapova) – helped enliven and popularize the sport on television.

“Bud Collins is tennis, a truly unique sports television personality, and ESPN is proud to add his insight, wit and wisdom to our coverage,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production. “For more than 40 years, Bud has had a courtside seat at every meaningful event in the sport. He knows everyone, and everyone knows him. When the opportunity presented itself to add Bud to our tennis team, it was an easy decision to quickly reach out to him – his perspective, great storytelling and inimitable style will help further distinguish our Grand Slam coverage on ESPN2 and on SportsCenter.”

Collins said, “I’m stimulated and extremely pleased to be joining ESPN’s world-wide tennis coverage, and anxious to get started. I am also delighted to be reunited with my long-time partner, Dick Enberg.”

Enberg worked with Collins for 20 years at NBC, including the “Breakfast at Wimbledon” live broadcasts starting in 1979. “No one through the decades has been more important to the coverage of tennis than Bud,” said Enberg. “He is not just a historian – literally and figuratively the encyclopedia of tennis – but he has served as a docent. He has been immensely generous, sharing his incredible knowledge with anyone who has an interest in the sport. He is a rich resource…we are very fortunate at ESPN to have him join our team, and I especially am looking forward with great anticipation to working with Bud again.”

A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College in his hometown of Berea, Ohio, Collins coached tennis from 1959 – 1963 at Brandeis University near Boston. He is also accomplished on the court, having won the U.S. Indoor mixed doubles championship with Janet Hopps in 1961 and was a finalist in the French Senior doubles with Jack Crawford in 1975. Collins, 78, has written several books, including The Education of a Tennis Player with Rod Laver in 1971, Evonne! On the Move with Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1974 and a memoir, My Life with the Pros, in 1989 and several editions of the Bud Collins Tennis Encyclopedia.”

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Tonight

10:00pm, NESN – Red Sox @ Angels

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