Andre Agassi, “The Kid from Las Vegas” turns 50 this Wednesday. Half a century of a life dedicated to tennis, a sport that he himself confessed that he hated since his father placed a racket in his hands when he was two years old, but in which he achieved a “revolution” until he became one of the seven capable players to win all four Grand Slams.
The “man with the short steps,” the man with the wigs to hide his alopecia, the flamboyant gamer who wore short jeans to hit the court, who wore earrings and even admitted that he had taken methamphetamine, played his last game at that 2006 US Open against Germany’s Benjamin Becker when he was 36 years old. But until then a powerful track record had been built.
Sportingly, Agassi will always be remembered because he has been one of the 26 number one tennis has had, a position he held for 101 weeks, and in which he managed to finish a season once, in 1999, and because he also won 60 tournaments, eight of them from the Grand Slam.
In this regard, he can feel happy because he is also the only one in history who has won the seven most prestigious titles in men’s individual tennis: the four Grand Slam, the Masters, now called ATP Finals, the Olympic gold medal (Olympics). Atlanta 1996) and Davis Cup (1990, 1992 and 1995).
He was also the youngest player to reach over a million dollars in prizes, after only playing 43 tournaments. But a glance at his biography shows that in those 50 years his life has not been so happy.
Although the children adored him, although he was the irreverent and “cool” one that many praised, Agassi never felt loved by the great American public who, to a greater extent, dedicated their love to Pete Sampras, with whom he rivaled in his best moments, and to whom he dedicated then compliments like, “He was more robotic than a parrot.”
It was, yes, an advertising banner, a breath of fresh air that splashed and revolutionized tennis with its appearance, outside the canons that were used then. With his racket he starred in what was called “The Rock and Roll of tennis.” But in the end his entire figure was subjected to a phrase that haunted him: “the image is everything.”
In his biography “Open,” also signed by Pulitzer Prize winner JR Moehringer and published in 2009, many of his hidden truths for a time were uncovered. Her fear when she jumped onto the track in a wig and feared that she would drop it was one of her main obsessions.
«I began to pray when I warmed up before starting the game (final of Roland Garros in 1990 against the Ecuadorian Andrés Gómez). It was not for the victory, but so that the wig did not fall off, “he describes there.
The hatred he felt for tennis, a sport imposed on him by his father, Emmanuel “Mike” Agassian, who competed in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics representing Iran in boxing, marked his entire career. Agassi did not choose this sport, but his father did, who dreamed of one of his four children being a figure with a racket.
I still hate tennis. And now as a coach, I don’t have to love him. My job is to make a player improve his performances, get into his head, understand who I have in front of him. And learning from him », he commented on« Open ».
Spurred on by his father, Agassi took “Speed” without knowing it until his brother Philly warned him. Later, when he was struggling in the lowest moments of his career, sunk in 141st place with a serious wrist injury, he admitted that he had also ingested Cristal, as methamphetamine is known.
“This will make you feel like Superman,” Slim, his assistant, told him, encouraging him on his first take.
There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a seismic wave of euphoria that sweeps negative thoughts from my head. I never felt so alive, so hopeful … I never felt so much energy “, says Agassi in” Open “when recounting those feelings of 1997.
«My name, my career, everything was at stake. Days later I sat in a chair with a notepad on my lap and wrote a letter to ATP. It was full of lies, mixed with half-truths, “he adds, referring to how he felt then, after an ATP doctor advised him that he had tested positive for a type II substance in an anti-doping control.
Agassi resorted to what could have been a three-month sanction, pointing out that it had been “an error of his assistant” and was saved from the penalty.
That regret was revealed in his biography. Also his hard years at Nick Bolletieri’s academy where he coincided among others with Jim Courier, his relationship and marriage with the American actress Brooke Shields and his subsequent wedding with the German Steffi Graf, an icon of the American to stay in shape, whose photo appeared in the fridge.
Shaved and proudly showing off his bald head, Agassi and Graf were married in 2001 in Las Vegas with only three people in the room, the judge who brought them together and their mothers. They then had two children: Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle.
Life has since changed for him. His foundation “Andre Agassi for Education”, focused on children seems to have changed and improved him. He has been a temporary coach of Grigor Dimitrov and Novak Djokovic, and has declared himself an admirer of Rafael Nadal, whom he considers even above Roger Federer.
His phrase “I play tennis as a way of life even though I hate him, I hate him with a secret passion and I always have”, will remain in the memory but also his legacy as a rebellious, irreverent and friendly player. EFE. (HN).