I never got to see Pete play live, which is a major gap in my almost 50 year tennis journey. But I remember his first USO very well, along with a few matches before pretty much everything after that. I watched him grow up in front of the world, go through good times and some very tough ones too. For me, he stands at the pinnacle of tennis with only one or two others.
BUT .. the sport of tennis is currently in the toilet. The beautiful game that Sampras possessed has been neutered by slow courts and poly strings (cheatalon, as he called it). Wimbledon is now won by people who simply have no net game, an insult to Borg who worked so hard to do well there and Lendl who spent years trying to gain the skills players don't even need any more.
I don't partake in the whole "if xxxxxx was born in the 90s they'd play like .." because it's actually not a pleasant though to imagine Pistol Pete growing up to be a grinder who can't volley. That's not a champion like Sampras, that's a poly era vulture collecting trophies with only a subset of the skills of those who won them before possessed. Sampras was sublime at a sport that no longer exists.
Hall of Fame post.