Monday, March 24, 2008 | Meet
Born in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 29, 1970, Andre Kirk Agassi was considered a tennis prodigy at age four and by 13 was enrolled at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Turning pro at 16, Agassi hit the tour circuit in 1986 and two years later was ranked 4th in the world. However, it wouldn't be until 1992 when the young pro won his first Grand Slam title against the likes of tennis superstars Boris Becker and John McEnroe.
As a young up-and-coming player, Agassi embraced a rebel image. He grew his hair to rocker length, sported an earring, and wore colorful shirts that pushed tennis' still-strict sartorial boundaries. He boasted of a cheeseburger diet and endorsed the Canon "Rebel" camera. "Image is everything" was the ad's line, and it became Agassi's as well.
He is a former World No. 1 professional American tennis player who won eight Grand Slam singles tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in singles. He is one of only five male players to have won all four Grand Slam singles events during his career. He is the only player in the open era to have won every Grand Slam singles title, to have won the Tennis Masters Cup, to have been part of a winning Davis Cup team, and to have won an Olympic gold medal. He won 17 ATP Masters Series tournaments, more than any other player. TENNIS Magazine has named him the 7th greatest male player from 1965 through 2005.
Agassi had a short but dramatic run in his final U.S. Open. Due to extreme back pain, Agassi was forced to receive anti-inflammatory injections after every match. After a tough four-set win against Andrei Pavel, Agassi faced #8 seed Marcos Baghdatis. Agassi, nevertheless, won 6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 5–7, 7–5 as the younger Baghdatis succumbed to muscle cramping in the final set.
In his last match, Agassi was in obvious pain on court and fell to 112th ranked big-serving Benjamin Becker of Germany in four sets. Agassi received an 8 minute standing ovation from the crowd after the match and delivered a memorable retirement speech.
"Thanks. The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you."
Agassi earned more than US$30 million in prize-money throughout his career, third only to Sampras and Federer. In addition, Agassi earned over US$25 million a year through endorsements, the most by any tennis player, during his career and fourth in all sports at the time.
Since retiring after the 2006 U.S. Open, Agassi has participated in many charity organizations and founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Association in 1994, which assists the youth of Las Vegas. He was awarded the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award in 1995 for his efforts to help disadvantaged youth. He is regularly cited as the most charitable and socially involved player in professional tennis.