They tried to make it as big as they could at the U.S. Open tonight, with a cascade of flags and a host of highlights and a Broadway singer serenading him at mid-court. They tried to give Pete Sampras a send-off in proper proportion to his mammoth career, but that was an impossible mission, and besides, all the pomp and circumstance in the world was no match for the simple act of gratitude performed by the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
One by one, they rose to clap on his behalf, the applause swelling to such a crescendo Sampras, 32, was nearly swept off the court. A minute into the standing ovation, he started to quietly weep. Two minutes in, he broke down completely, using one hand to cover his face and the other to acknowledge the crowd.
Quiet, unassuming, professional, and one of the best ever- he never got the respect he deserved, IMHO.