Andre Agassi was prepared, literally from the cradle, to be a tennis champion. His father, an Iranian immigrant and former Olympic boxer, had him hit thousands of balls a day. By age five, Andre was practicing with pros; at 16, he was a pro himself. Freed from his rigorous upbringing, he rebelled, deliberately outraging tennis traditionalists with his unconventional hairstyles and fashions. At the same time, he was overwhelming the competition with his inexhaustible endurance, exceptional timing and uncanny hand-eye coordination.
He won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 1992, and more titles followed quickly, but after finishing 1995 as the game's top-rated player, and triumphing at the 1996 Olympics, his career faltered. A recurring wrist injury and the beginnings of a serious back condition began to affect his game, while the tabloid press harried him relentlessly. Rigorous conditioning and iron discipline led to a breathtaking comeback at the end of the decade, and Agassi showed a deepened maturity in his conduct on and off the court. By 1999, he was once again the top-rated player in the world. Over the years, he played on three Davis Cup-winning U.S. teams, won all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Tennis Masters Cup, in addition to his Olympic Gold Medal. Other tennis players have won some combinations of these honors, but in the history of the sport, Andre Agassi is the only champion to have won all of them.He has also earned a reputation as the most socially engaged player in professional tennis. In 1994 he founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Association in his home town of Las Vegas, where he continues to live with his wife, fellow tennis star Steffi Graf, and their two children. His charitable projects there have included a tuition-free K-12 college preparatory school for at-risk youth, a special residence for the developmentally disabled, and the county's only residential facility for abused and neglected children.
When Andre Agassi retired from professional tennis last year, he received an eight-minute standing ovation after his final match, and made a memorable speech to his fans. "You have given me your shoulders to stand upon to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you."