08 July 2011

Tribute to Andre Agassi

Young Andre ready for Davis Cup action.
Andre Agassi will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tomorrow. I have my tissues ready.
I blame/thank Andre for getting me into the game. I had played tennis for a few years when I saw a photo of Andre in People Magazine in 1988 when he had just finished an amazing year (ended it #3 in the world). Despite the mullet, I was interested, and started following pro tennis the next year.
There's never been a tennis player like Andre - what a roller coaster career he had and one never knew what would come next. The potty mouth comments, the wild outfits and hair, skipping slams. Huge success, then mighty falls followed by a transition into a dedicated, clean shaven adult with superb fitness and seemingly inner calm. Now a happily married man to Stefanie Graf (I still can't believe that happened) with two adorable kids. And a strong dedication to being a philanthropist and truly helping others.

My fave Andre moments:
1) Winning Wimbledon in a mullet and biking shorts in 1992

2) Becoming #1 again in 2003 at age 33
3) US Open match vs Bagdatis, 2006
4) US Open match vs Blake, 2005
5) The hot pink and lime green shirts/biking shorts
6) The 'bozo' incident with Philippe Chatrier
7) The Barbra Streisand phase
8) Winning the US Open in 1994 unseeded
9) Andre beating Pete in five sets, Aussie Open semis 2000. Was lucky enough to be in Melbourne for this one (alas no ticket) - watching this epic in a lively pub was one of my best tennis moments ever.
10) His farewell speech US Open 2006. Sob.

Yes, I had this poster on my wall as a teen
There aren't enough words to describe Andre's impact on tennis or how many people he brought to the game, particularly in the US. I can't wait to hear the tribute speeches in Newport tomorrow - it's hard to believe he's now 41 and retired five years ago. How you're missed Andre!

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