Agassi retires after 21 years

By Liz Lavin
September 22, 2006

Tennis legend Andre Agassi ended his 21-year professional tennis career on Sunday, Sept. 3 after losing to Benjamin Becker during the third round in the U.S. Open. Agassi received a four-minute standing ovation on the court, and another standing ovation from fellow players in the locker room.

Fellow tennis pro Andy Roddick said, “Every person in the draw.probably idolized Andre at some point. I mean, he’s just revolutionized the sport.he’s irreplaceable.”

Agassi’s career started as an infant. His father was set on having one of his children win all four tennis Grand Slams.

As a baby, tennis balls hung above Agassi’s crib and he had paddles for toys. He started practicing with professionals at the age of five; at 14 he attended a tennis academy and turned professional at the age of 16.

Agassi rebelled against his father’s strict dreams with a rocker image. When he turned pro, he pushed tennis’s strict limits by sporting colorful shirts, an earring and hair that went beyond his shoulders.

His image may have been misleading, but there was no question of Agassi’s talent on the court. He had a rocky start to his career, winning six tournaments in 1988 and losing many of his major matches in the early 1990s, but his “Grand Slam breakthrough,” according to Wikipedia, was his win at Wimbledon in 1992.

In April 1995, Agassi became the World No. 1 after his career best 26- match winning streak. He also won seven singles titles that year, and held the World No. 1 title for 30 weeks.

In 1996, Agassi was the men’s singles gold medal winner at the Olympics.

1997 proved to be a bad year for Agassi. He didn’t win any major titles, his ranking dropped to No. 141, and his highly publicized marriage to Brooke Shields put him in the spotlight for more than tennis.

Agassi did a complete turnaround by 1998, won five titles and was ranked No.6 by the end of the year, the biggest leap any tennis player has ever made in one year. After divorcing Shields in 1999, Agassi married women’s tennis professional Steffi Graf in 2001, who, according to the International Olympic Committee, was ranked World No. 1 for 186 weeks in a row.

Agassi’s injuries started interfering with his play in 2005. By 2006 he was suffering from ankle, leg and back pain. He needed cortisone shots after almost every match due to his back pain. Agassi proved to be a tennis legend and ends his career with, among other titles, an Olympic gold medal, four consecutive Grand Slam titles and eight Grand Slam titles in all.

During Agassi’s career, he started the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation. Since he founded the organization in 1994, it has risen over $60 million to found and support organizations that help improve the lives of at-risk children, according to Agassi AACF supports over 20 organizations that provide opportunities for at-risk boys and girls, including the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club, Boys Hope/Girls Hope, Child Haven and the Las Vegas Sun Summer Camp.

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Liz Lavin

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