“What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.” Andre Agassi
Professional American tennis player Andre Agassi created an impressive career from 1986 to his retirement in 2006. He won eight Grand Slam single tournaments and a gold medal in singles at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. He was also a member of the United States' Davis Cup winning team three times and played at a number of Master Series tournaments. After his retirement, the “Tennis Magazine’s” “7th Greatest Male Player from 1965 to 2005” focused his energy on his charitable endeavors. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, an organization that helps the youth of Las Vegas, and in 2001, he opened up The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a charter school for unfortunate children, which is funded by his foundation and the Nevada State Department of Education. For his dedication to disadvantaged youth in the Las Vegas area, he has been awarded two ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Awards (1995 and 2001). He also co-founded Athletes for Hope in 2007.
As for his personal life, Agassi is the husband of ex-tennis star Steffi Graf and has two children with her. From 1997 to 1999, he had a much-publicized marriage to actress Brooke Shields. Prior to the marriages, he was romantically involved with famous singer/actress Barbra Streisand (together in the early 1990s). A steadfast Democrat, Agassi has donated more than 100,000 dollars to various Democratic candidates.
Brooke Shields' Ex
Childhood and Family:
Andre Kirk Agassi was born on April 29, 1970, in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Emmanuel 'Mike' Agassi and Elizabeth Agassi. His Iranian-born dad was a Golden Glove champion who represented Iran in boxing at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games prior to his migration to the United States. Also a passionate tennis fan, Mike dreamed that one day one of his four children would be a world class player.
When Andre was an infant, his father sharpened his eye coordination by hanging tennis balls over his baby bed and along with his older siblings, Rita, Tamara and Phillip, young Andre used to hit 3,000 balls every day. By the time he was 5, he had practiced with professional players like Roscoe Tanner and Jimmy Connors. Andre attended the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, when he was 14 years old. Due to a lack of financial support, he originally planned to stay at the academy for eight weeks, but his potential soon caught the attention of Bollettieri who then allowed him to train for free. Andre embarked on his professional career at age 16.
On April 19, 1997, Andre married actress Brooke Shields (born on May 31, 1965). The much-publicized relationship ended in annulment on April 9, 1999. A surprise champ at the 1999 French Open, Andre met champion Steffi Graf at the winner's ball and they subsequently became a couple. They secretly married on October 22, 2001, at Andre's Las Vegas home. Andre and his wife have two children, son Jaden Gil (born on October 26, 2001) and daughter Jaz Elle (born on October 3, 2003). In addition to a house in Las Vegas, the family also owns several vacation homes.
Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation
Turning professional at age 16, Andre Agassi made his debut appearance in a tournament at La Quinta, California, where he successfully defeated John Austin, 6–4 6–2. Although he lost his second tournament to Mats Wilander, he rose to the world's top 91 by the end of the year. At this point, Agassi was easily recognized with his long hair and colorful clothing.
In 1987, Agassi won his first top-level singles title at Itaparica and went on to improve his rank into the best 25 by the end of the year. Regarded a tennis prodigy at age 3, he enjoyed more victory by winning six subsequent matches in 1988 and by December of that year, he won more than $2 million in prize money after participating in just 43 tournaments, making him the fastest player ever to achieve that level. He was also able to reach the top 3 in the world, along with Mats Wilander (#1) and Ivan Lendl (#2).
A semifinalist at the 1988 French Open and U.S. Open as well as the 1989 U.S. Open, Agassi did not hit the Grand Slam final until 1990 at the French Open, in which he lost in four sets to Andrés Gómez. In his next Grand Slam final at the 1990 U.S. Open, he was defeated by fellow American player Pete Sampras, who would become his prominent rival for the rest of the decade. Despite the failures, Agassi had a significant part helping the United States win the 1990 Davis Cup, a first victory after 8 years.
The following year, Agassi again went to the finals at the French Open, where Jim Courier beat him in five sets. It was also in 1991 that the Nevada native made his debut at Wimbledon where he made it to the quarterfinals. Already known for his bright outfits, Agassi appeared at the tournament in white clothing.
One memorable moment came when the gifted player beat Goran Ivanisevic in five sets at the 1992 Wimbledon finals and took home his first Grand Slam title. Along the way, he defeated the ex-Wimbledon champions John McEnroe and Boris Becker. Also that year, Agassi was handed the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award and again became part of the United States' Davis Cup winning team.
In 1993, Agassi teamed up with Petr Korda to play at the Cincinnati Masters, where they won. It marked Agassi's first and only doubles title in his career. Despite the success, Agassi spent much of the year battling injuries that eventually led to wrist surgery late that year. He managed to play in several major events, but was not successful. Responding to critics that speculated 1993 was the end of his career, Agassi recruited Brad Gilbert as his couch for the following season. He lost in the first week at the French Open and Wimbledon, but scored a prominent comeback later that year at the Canada Masters event. He further verified he was back in the saddle again by winning the 1994 U.S. Open and the 1995 Australia Open. He also collected three Master Series events in 1995 and for a third time joined the U.S. Davis Cup winning team. With 72 wins and 10 losses, Agassi was ranked #1 in the world from April to November 1995.
1996 found Agassi defeated by Chris Woodruff and Doug Flach at the French Open and Wimbledon and only reaching the semi-finals at the US Open. He maintained his presence in the limelight by nabbing the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where he beat Russian player Sergi Bruguera in a three-set final. He also successfully defended his singles titles at the Miami Masters and Cincinnati Masters.
Agassi again suffered a major setback in 1997. Due to a wrist injury, he only participated in 24 games and won no stellar titles. His ranking dropped down to No. 141 in the world in November. Undismayed, Agassi trained hard and in 1999 he won the French Open and U.S. Open.
Agassi took home his second Australian Open title in 2000 after defeating Yevgeny Kafelnikov. He defended his Australian Open title in 2001 after beating Arnaud Clément, but was forced to skip the 2002 Australian Open because of injury. He made a triumphant comeback in 2003 when he defeated Rainer Schüttler in straight sets in the finals and took home his forth Australian Open championship. At age 33, Agassi became the oldest player to win a Gran Slam singles title since Ken Rosewall won the Australian in 1972.
After 20 years on the court, Agassi hung up his racket on September 4, 2006. He was defeated by German player Benjamin Becker in four sets at his last match at the U.S. Open. He stated to his fans, “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.”
Since retirement, Agassi has dedicated his life to his family and charitable work. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which offers at-risk children in Southern Nevada educational chances and recreational activities. Established in 1994, the foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas in 2001. It is a tuition-free charter school for children.
In 2007, Agassi co-founded Athletes for Hope, a non-profit organization who helps professional athletes become involved in charitable issues. Among his partners are Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Jeff Gordon, Alonzo Mourning, Cal Ripken, Jr., Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk and Mario Lemieux.
Australian Open Champ: 2000, 2001, 2003
French Open and the U.S. Open Champions: 1999
Olympic Gold Medalist: 1996
Australia Open Champ: 1995
U.S. Open Champ: 1994
BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award: 1992
Wimbledon Champ: 1992