41 & Tennis

He passed away peacefully at 94 years old on November 30th, 2018 in Houston, Texas, my hometown after having spent a final summer at the Bush summer home on Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, ME.

Aerial view of the Bush compound at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, ME.  Source: Maine Imaging.

While the New York Times continues with coverage of the Nation’s tribute to the last presidential war hero, and Sully H.W. Bush – his service labrador who made his “forever home” in Maine after former First Lady Barbara Bush’s passing – solidifies himself as a part of the Bush family and legacy, I’ve pulled together some notable moments that involved George HW and tennis, which he loved.

Sportingly, it bears mentioning that while he was Captain of the Yale baseball team (1948) and had at least one pair of Houston Astros socks, some might argue that playing tennis was his primary athletic passion.  From doubles with Pete Sampras at the White House to playing various charity events to maintaining his private court at Walker’s Point to having memberships at the Kennebunk River Club and Houston Country Club – his love for the game was clearly absolute.

George H.W. Bush and Pete Sampras play doubles at the White House tennis court, 1990.  Source: George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Sadly, one imagines this made his more recent wheelchair confinement with vascular Parkinsonism extraordinarily difficult to bear.  But at the very least, he was able to spend a final summer in Maine with Sully and Co.  A place where per the New York Times he once wrote his children: “Your mother and I sit out here like a couple of really old poops, but we are at total peace.”

Scarcely believable stories and notable tributes follow below, in remembrance:

  1. Ken Hoffman recounts the outrageously awkward cum legendary moment where he was once playing doubles against Chuck Norris and Chris Evert, got nailed in the groin by Evert’s serve, and had a presidential assist to his feet by George HW. 
  2. Baseline tennis digest shared what the tennis world remembered, with Tweets including Pam Shriver after she played a doubles match with the 3 Bush boys – and had their father President George HW, serving as the official match umpire.
  3. Tennis Magazine/senior editor Donna Doherty helped the then Vice President voice what tennis meant to him in a February 1987 article, where he playfully noted that while he had a terrible serve, his doubles partner Jimmy Baker (then Treasury Secretary) “…has a worse one.”
  4. The Houston Chronicle reminisced that “If you played with or against him, you took every point seriously or you probably weren’t going to be invited back.”

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