Mary Carillo didn’t plan to be a sports reporter and TV personality. Her path was set to play tennis, a sport she grew up playing and thrived in. She won the French Open mixed-doubles with John McEnroe, and later made it to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon with her playing partner, and was a women’s doubles quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open.
Then, after reaching World No. 33 in the Women’s Tennis Association Rankings, knee injuries forced her to quit a game loved.
So what was next for Carillo? She didn’t have a plan, but someone else did. A mentor recognized she had a penchant for TV and put her in the reporting booth. Soon she was working for USA Network, PBS, ESPN and began covering the U.S. Open for CBS Sports. Now when you turn on the TV during Wimbledon or the French Open, you’ll likely hear a familiar voice, having joined NBC Sports in May 2003.
Her knowledge of the game has earned her respect in the industry, earning the distinction of being called “the sport’s top analyst,” by Sports Illustrated. She is opinionated and steadfast in her beliefs of how the game should be played and doesn’t back down from a good debate on the court.
Carillo has carved a space for herself as one of the few female commentators tennis has seen. She hasn’t let this deter her, even when her former doubles partner McEnroe said he did not want to work in the same booth as her.
Because she’s been able to block out the noise, she’s opened other doors for herself by working as a reporter during the Olympics, making documentaries and working as a correspondent with HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, winning a Sports Emmy in the process.
While many think Carillo has already accomplished everything one can, in her mind, she’s just getting started.