Critics still call Andre Agassi one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and the best "service runner` in the history of the game.But fans simply miss the hard-nosed, charming, slightly `bad` boy who gave them thrills, laughs, and headlines! Upon his retirement from the game, Agassi was actually declared one of the biggest - if not THE biggest - worldwide star in the history of tennis.
And Agassi was certainly `all that` when it came to his magnificent play on the court, but he is also remembered for his unorthodox apparel and slightly McEnroe- `ish` attitude that he displayed during almost every game.The best adjective to describe Agassi was charismatic, and that unending charisma actually brought tennis back to life.The game had been unpopular since the likes of McEnroe and Connors had `left the building,` but when Agassi appeared in the 1990s it was like the game of tennis was fresh, innovative and fun all over again.
This eight-time Grand Slam singles champion competed in fifteen Grand Slam finals, and took home the gold at the Olympics! His awards came from the stunning fact that Agassi could play on all different types of surfaces.He was an absolute specialist in all areas of play and he is the first of only two male players in history to have achieved a singles Career Golden Slam - and one of four male players to have achieved a singles Career Grand Slam - two of the highest honors a tennis player can possibly receive.He won all four Grand Slams on a hard surface, clay AND grass, and was the last American male thus far to win the French Open and the Australian Open.
Is that all? Not even close.Agassi won seventeen ATP Master`s Series titles and an ATP Tour World Championship.Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end in sports.And it was sciatica causingbulging discs in his back and a bone spur, that forced this incredible tennis player to call it quits in 2006.
His heart and soul, however, remains extremely large; his own charitable foundation has actually raised over sixty million dollars that goes to help at-risk children in Southern Nevada. And, in 2001, the Foundation even opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, which is a K-12 public charter school for at-risk kids.
Agassi`s two children may just follow in his stunning path, considering that his wife is retired professional tennis player, Steffi Graf, who made a huge name for herself and won a ton of accolades for her own amazing performances on the court, as well.
Agassi was always a quick learner and player - and he actually surpassed over one million dollars in prize money very early in his career.As he became bigger and bigger in the world of tennis, Agassi was the first to choose not to play at Wimbledon simply because he thought that the event`s traditionalism - especially the all-white dress code - was ridiculous, and that players should not HAVE to conform to such childish rules and regulations.
While still just a teenager, Agassi reached the semi-finals of both the French Open and the U.S. Open in 1988, and made the U.S. Open semifinals in 1989. He reached his first Grand Slam final in 1990 at the French Open, where he was favored, but ended up losing in a near miss. He reached his second Grand Slam final the same year at the U.S, Open, but Pete Sampras took the win, even though Agassi had stated that Sampras would never be a pro.
Like the famous rivalries in basketball and football, the Sampras/Agassi rivalry dominated the 1990s and made all of the stadiums fill up with avid viewers.
It was in 1991 that Agassi finally decided to play at Wimbledon, and all the papers could talk about leading up to his appearance was what clothes he would come out wearing.And, yes, he did adhere and wore a completely white outfit. It wasn`t until 1992, though, that Agassi finally hit the top-slot of tennis, winning the Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon, defeating the big names of Boris Becker and John McEnroe to get there.
Going through many injuries and surgeries, it was not until 1994 when Agassi began to realize his age and instituted a more tactical approach to the game.Agassi started slowly, losing in the first week at the French Open and Wimbledon, but he felt a resurgence as he went on to win the Canadian Open and the U.S. Open - actually coming out number one even though he was an unseeded player at the time.
It was in 1995 when the beautiful locks were destroyed and Agassi shaved his head, breaking with his image is everything style. Perhaps, the loss of hair brought some kind of fortune because he won the Australian Open that year by beating his arch-enemy - Sampras.Going on to compile a twenty-six-match winning streak that year, it came to an end only when he re-met up with Sampras at the U.S. Open and lost. He did reach the World Number One ranking in 1995 and held onto it for a total of thirty weeks, making 1995 his very best year.
One of the most surprising things about Agassi is when he confessed to using crystal meth two years later.He failed an ATP drug test, but wrote a letter claiming a `friend` had actually spiked his drink.He quit the drug soon after, but his ranking fell to 141 overall, making most fans believe that the world of Agassi was over.
They were wrong
In 1998, Agassi worked his way back up the rankings by playing in Challenger Series tournaments - a circuit for pro players ranked outside the world`s top fifty. He also played classic matches in this period against Sampras, ended up winning five titles and leapt up to Number 6 in the world.Agassi did enter the history books in 1999 when he came back to win in five-sets at the French Open, becoming only the fifth male player to have won all four Grand Slam singles titles during his career.
Since his retirement, Agassi has participated in a series of charity tournaments and continues his work with his own charity. His return of serve, baseline game, and keen sense of anticipation are still remembered as being the `best in the game,` and Agassi`s swell costumes will never be forgotten!
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