World of tennis pays tribute to John Parsons
By Mark Hodgkinson
Tim Henman led the tributes from around the world last night for John Parsons, the lawn tennis correspondent of The Daily Telegraph for the last 23 years.
John Parsons: covered more than 40 Wimbledons in his career
Parsons, who died in Miami on Monday aged 66, was the doyen of the sport's writers. "John was the grandfather of tennis," Henman said.
Parsons was known, respected and adored on every stop of the tennis roadshow. He had covered more than 40 Wimbledons.
J P, as everyone called him, had a passion and a knowledge for the game of tennis that was unmatched.
Parsons was honoured by fellow journalists yesterday with a minute's silence before a press conference to announce this summer's Wimbledon prize money. The All England Club, where he had been an honorary member since 1994, had lost one of their own.
"This is a sad day," said Henman, who went to visit Parsons in hospital before he died. "He will be greatly missed by everyone within tennis. Everyone who was a part of the tennis world was also a part of John's family. Tennis was his life. He was so passionate about the sport - he was the grandfather and the godfather.
"He followed my career from the start, from when I was playing short tennis at the age of seven or eight. And because we were both from Oxford, there was always a special relationship between us. John was at almost every major tournament that I have played at in my career.
"It was always a tradition that he kicked off my press conferences with the first question. He got so excited about Wimbledon, so do I. It will be so strange, and so sad, not having John around."
, three times Wimbledon champion, said: "John was the king of the press box. I met him at my first Wimbledon in 1972, and from then on he was always one of my favourites. I got to know him well from doing columns for Telegraph Sport. I loved to see him smile. It was great to see him laugh and to be happy, as he was usually so serious most of the time. But he had a lovely smile.
"He just had great qualities. He was very low-key and understated. There was real integrity in his writing. John had the manner about him that you knew you could trust him. I knew that he would not sensationalise the story, but write it fairly. He was just a real classy guy."
, another triple Wimbledon champion, said: "John really loved our sport. He was one of the guys I saw around the courts from the moment I started in tennis and for that alone I respected him. There aren't many who've been around the game for as long as he had. He cared a lot about it - that was enough for me."
nine times Wimbledon champion, said: "John's insight and wit will be greatly missed. It's just too sad for tennis to lose such a knowledgeable historian. When he interviewed me, I always learned something, and he made everyone think."
Former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade
said: "It is hard to imagine tennis without John. He was very fair. He always spoke to you as an equal, always respected what you said. I remember some wonderful nights out with John, especially dinners in Paris. It was great to be a friend of his."
, three times a Wimbledon winner, said: "It wasn't easy being thrown to the press pack as an innocent boy at Wimbledon in 1985, I needed help and it wasn't always easy to find. John was one of those journalists you immediately looked to and knew you could rely on him. He always stood for fairness, honesty and truth. When John spoke, he spoke with authority and when he wrote, his words carried enormous respect. Tennis writing has lost its own great champion."
chief executive of the All England Club, said: "John's contribution to tennis was immense. The word that comes to mind is ubiquitous. He was everywhere, either covering a Grand Slam final, or at a junior event. He gave me huge support professionally, but was also a true friend."
, chairman of the All England Club, said: "He has made an enormous contribution to tennis, which is recognised in this country and abroad. He set himself the highest standards. He will be greatly missed."