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Mary Carillo is a former professional tennis player and has been one of the most respected sports commentators for over four decades. Carillo joined the pro tennis circuit in 1977. She enjoyed her greatest success playing mixed doubles, including winning the 1977 French Open title playing with friend and tennis great John McEnroe, whom she had grown up with in Douglaston, NY. Carillo reached the No. 33 ranking by 1980, but persistent knee problems forced her to retire that same year. That may have been a fortuitous development, as she seemingly found her true calling soon after. Following the end of a brief but promising tennis career, Carillo went on to become one of the foremost sports journalists, blazing a trail for other women through a male-dominated field.
Carillo was born on March 15, 1957 in Queens, NY, the daughter of Terry and Anthony Carillo. Her brother is the author Charlie Carillo, and they have a sister named Gina. Carillo attended St. Mary's High School nearby in the Manhasset section of Long Island. Following three stunted years as a professional tennis player, Carillo made a smooth transition from the court to the small screen as an analyst, beginning with the USA Network in 1980. She remained there until 1987 before moving to ESPN in 1988, while also contributing to tennis coverage on PBS. During the 1980s, Carillo was named "Broadcaster of the Year" by the Women's Tennis Association, and "best commentator" by Tennis Magazine and World Tennis multiple times. She covered Olympic tennis for CBS during the 1996 Games in Atlanta and even reported on skiing during the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics. Carillo also covered the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
Not only did Carillo become one of the most respected commentators in tennis, she received numerous accolades for her broader roles in sports journalism. Carillo earned a Peabody Award in 2000 for her work on the documentary "Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sport" (HBO). Carrillo has contributed to "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" (HBO, 1995- ) since 1997, where she earned a Sports Emmy Award in 2006 for her reporting on "Team Hoyt," a father and son pair who compete in copious endurance races together despite the son suffering from cerebral palsy. In 2007, Carrillo received another Peabody Award for the HBO documentary "Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer" (2006). She also helped author the books Tennis My Way (1984) with Martina Navratilova, and Tennis Confidential II: More of Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies (2008) with Paul Fein. She was married to tennis coach Bill Bowden until they divorced in 2008; they have two children together, Anthony and Rachel.
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