There simply isn’t enough time in the day to describe all the wonderful things about Andre Agassi. From the moment he stepped onto the professional courts of the ATP tour, he turned tennis upside down. Who could forget those long blonde locks and denim shorts? Agassi has provided tennis fans and sports fans with a number of precious moments throughout his career. From his rivalry with fellow American Pete Sampras, to his low points of his career plummeting in the rankings, to his final run as a pro in 2006 at the U.S. Open. This past weekend, Andre Agassi was officially immortalized in Newport, R.I. when he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
I am proud to admit, that I was always an Agassi guy, not a Sampras guy. When someone asks you who you root for Mets or Yankees, tennis’ equivalent was who do you root for Sampras or Agassi? Andre always had the charisma and energy that Pete never had. Mind you, Pete Sampras has provided us with some of the most memorable matches ever. With Agassi, it’s different. If you read his autobiography Open, you would have read how much Agassi loathes tennis. Being pushed by his father his entire childhood to play and to play well is the reason we have Andre Agassi. Andre has publicly made it known that the relationship he had with his father was not a great one back then, always telling his son what to do. During his Hall of Fame induction speech this past weekend, he thanked his father in sincere fashion, “Dad, when I was five, you told me to win Wimbledon. When I was seven, you told me to win all four Grand Slams. And more times than I can remember, you told me to get into the Hall of Fame. And when I was 29, you told me to marry Steffi Graf. Best advice you ever gave me. So dad, please don’t ever stop telling me what to do.”
Agassi’s wife Steffi Graf and their two kids, Jaden and Jazz, looked on as the American legend thanked the game of tennis time after time for all it has given him. Trying to hold back the tears, Agassi reminisced what he had done with his charity work, most notably his famous school “Agassi Prep Academy” located in Las Vegas, Nev. As Agassi wept, it brought back memories of his last match at the U.S. Open in 2006. When he spoke to the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium thereafter his loss, I, along with other fans couldn’t help but cry like a baby. That’s sort of what we sport fans do with our favorite athletes. We laugh when they laugh, smile when they smile, and cry when they cry. For all that Andre Agassi has given to the world, an induction into the tennis hall of fame was mandatory.
Agassi’s storied career includes 60 titles, the number one ranking, an 870-274 career match record, over $30 million in prize money, eight Grand Slam titles, and an Olympic gold medal. These achievements that Agassi has accomplished aren’t what the people will remember the most. The people will remember the story that Agassi wrote through his playing career. The drama that he brought to the tennis court, whether it was a fashion statement, a hairpiece or a rivalry, Andre provided sports fans with memories that will never be forgotten.
“I fell in love with tennis far too late in my life. But the reason I have everything I hold dear is because tennis has loved me back," Agassi said.