After nearly 20 years as a familiar and friendly face on SportsCenter – not to mention the Winter X Games, Little League World Series and other events, including tennis’ Majors – Chris McKendry has decided to focus on the sport she loves: tennis.
“ESPN first assigned me to the Australian Open in 2010, and I knew instantly that I was working on my future, and I’ve decided the future is now,” says McKendry, a Division I scholarship tennis player at Drexel University in her hometown of Philadelphia. “Wimbledon is one of sports’ most iconic competitions and venues, and that’s where you’ll find me next. I have a seat there because of the seat I’ve occupied on SportsCenter. For that, I am forever grateful.”
In addition to spending midsummer in London, McKendry will also continue to handle host duties at the Australian Open each January and the US Open in New York in late summer. Her final show behind the SportsCenter desk is 11 a.m. on Thursday.
McKendry joined ESPN in 1996 as a SportsCenter anchor, adding a wide variety of assignments over the years – the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee; the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.; the Winter X Games and serving as a sideline reporter at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, in addition to tennis, which also included the French Open for many years.
“On July 27, 1996, I made my SportsCenter debut,” she recalls. “A newly hired reporter visiting Bristol, I was just a fill in. I never left.
“I found myself next to those whose talents, personalities and reputations initially scared me to death only to realize that I had found what would be my home for nearly 20 years.”
She came to ESPN from WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., where she not only was a sports reporter, but the first woman to work as a television sports news anchor in the market (1994-96). She also co-hosted “Redskin Magazine,” a one-hour, live pregame show. In 1996, she was sideline and feature reporter for TNT and TBS during the NBA Playoffs.
“SportsCenter has been the best thing for me, personally and professionally, but I’m not looking back, it’s time for a new chapter. It’s time for tennis and family,” she says.