Brad Gilbert has had a remarkable career in tennis as a player, coach and now one of the top analysts for ESPN.
He won 20 singles championships, was runner-up 20 times in singles finals, went 519-288 in singles and earned more than $5.5 million in prize money while playing professionally from 1982-1995.
He ascended to the No. 4 ranking in the world in 1990, reached the quarterfinals of the 1987 U.S. Open and 1990 Wimbledon tournament, and beat Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras and Jim Courier when they were ranked in the top three in the world.
Representing his country, Gilbert won a bronze medal in singles in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
After retiring as a player in 1995, Gilbert began coaching full-time.
He coached Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray at the high points of their careers. Agassi won six of his eight Grand Slam championships while Gilbert was his coach from 1994-2002.
ESPN hired Gilbert in 2004. He’s worked in the studio, as a match analyst and sideline reporter.
What happened 37 years ago in Israel also is a special tennis memory for Gilbert. He won a gold medal in doubles and a silver medal in singles at the Maccabiah Games, an Olympics-style event that brings together the top Jewish athletes in the world.
Gilbert admits he didn’t comprehend the significance of competing in the Maccabiah Games at the time. Now he does.
“Until I got to Israel, I didn’t know the Maccabiah Games was such a big event,” he said. “I remember it felt like it was a million degrees there, and I stayed in a dorm room with eight people and no air conditioning.
“But I had a great time and I still see some of my U.S. teammates, including Jon Levine, who was my doubles partner.”
Gilbert and Levine defeated fellow Americans Rick Meyer and Paul Bernstein for the Maccabiah Games doubles title. Israeli Shlomo Glickstein beat Gilbert for the singles championship.
The 56-year-old Californian reflected on his Maccabiah Games experience Saturday while he was in the area for a busy three-day weekend filled with adult and youth clinics, exhibition matches and a social gathering, all hosted by the Birmingham Athletic Club.
“You can’t make huge changes in your game from one clinic,” Gilbert said, “but I hope those who attended the clinics are more excited now about playing tennis.”
It’s easy getting Gilbert to be excited about tennis, especially when he talks about it as a lifetime sport.
Gilbert still plays tennis competitively occasionally. He said he’s going to keep playing as long as he can.
Gilbert was invited to the Birmingham Athletic Club by his friend Cade McLogan, who teaches tennis there.
As for the world of professional tennis, Gilbert thinks Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the top men’s players these days.
Then there’s Serena Williams, who was the women’s singles runner-up at Wimbledon earlier this month even though she had a baby Sept. 1, 2017, in a difficult Cesarean section delivery following labor complications that included blood clots in her lungs and a pulmonary embolism.
“Am I surprised Serena did that well at Wimbledon after what she went through? No,” Gilbert said. “She’s an incredible competitor. Never underestimate a Williams sister.”
Gilbert and his wife, Kim, have three children.
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