The finest players in tennis will be gathering in Paris this weekend for the French Open. The greatest collection of players, however, is not on the red clay at Roland Garros, but in highlight videos of the "Late Show with David Letterman," which airs its final episode Wednesday night.
Among the tennis players to appear on Letterman since he started his late night show in 1982 are Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Roger Federer, Martina Navratilova, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. And that's not a complete list.
Letterman has hosted so many tennis legends that an appearance on his show is almost as much a claim to true greatness in the sport as winning a Grand Slam. In fact, at least 170 Grand Slam titles have been represented on his set. Take that, Oprah!
McEnroe was on the show several times -- he even guest-hosted an episode in 2008, when Letterman was ill. He once served a ball through a window at the Ed Sullivan Theater from a neighboring rooftop -- but one of the more entertaining appearances is this one from 2000, when, among many comments, McEnroe talks about how he accidentally insulted Graf to Andre Agassi. And at the 19 minutes, 30 seconds mark of this 2004 appearance, Johnny Mac gives a Top 10 list about why he'll make a good talk show host, including:
"No. 10, You never know when I'll go nuts and beat a guest with a tennis racket."
"No. 7, Bush is an idiot and he's president, so anything is possible."
And "No. 3, How many Grand Slams has Oprah won?"
Like McEnroe, Serena Williams was a guest multiple times, including last year when she broke the front window at Rupert Jee's Hello Deli with a serve. She and sister Venus also read a Top 10 list in 2003 on why they would not be playing in the US Open, including "No. 5, We're spending our time in the lab developing a third, even more powerful Williams sister."
Among others who did Top 10 lists were Marin Cilic after winning last year's US Open. The No. 3 Thought Going Through My Mind During the Championship Match: "When it gets quiet, I can hear the Mets getting booed."
Sharapova was a guest in 2008, and after Dave makes a couple uncomfortable comments about her looks, he attempts to return her serve on the street. Billy Crystal joins Letterman in this attempt, but the two comedians show themselves to be no threat to Maria or the Bryan brothers.
Agassi also appeared on the show, with Letterman immediately asking him about his use of crystal meth. Dave later holds up a photo of Agassi with his ridiculous Heavy Metal mullet. "This," Letterman says, "is more stunning than the drug revelation."
Letterman boasted last year that Serena had won the US Open three times after appearances on his show. She will have to do so without his help from now on. After 33 years as a late night host, Letterman is calling it quits Wednesday tonight. His replacement, Stephen Colbert, will have a harder time matching Dave's tennis résumé than beating Rafa in Paris.