This summer, we’ve already studied two tennis greats: Martina Navratilova and Althea Gibson, both of whom shocked the world with their game-changing contributions to the game of tennis. To close out our three-part summer series, let’s get to know one more inspirational tennis champion: Andre Agassi.
As we learn more about Andre Agassi, we’ll identify three characteristics that make him an ideal youth tennis role model. With these in mind, we can work with our junior tennis players to help them become well-rounded people on and off the court.
Andre Agassi: His Story
Andre Agassi is widely regarded for his strong and smart style of play. The instant star won several junior national titles before turning pro at just 16 years old. By the time he ended his career in 2006, the International Tennis Hall of Famer had racked up eight championships across the four major tennis tournaments:
- Australian Open (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003)
- French Open (199)
- Wimbledon (1992)
- S. Open (1994, 1999)
Additionally, Agassi won 60 ATP titles and a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, “He was a major finalist 15 times, and earned $31,152,975 in prize money, sixth highest in history.” Not too bad!
Known for his flashy style and iconic blonde hairdo (which was later revealed to be a troublesome wig), Andre Agassi was one of the hottest tennis pros of the late 1980s and 1990s. While he was often showered in glitz and glamour, Agassi’s inner demons and drive toward rebelliousness would come back to haunt him.
Related: Andre Agassi Biography
Andre Agassi was born into tennis by his father, an Iranian immigrant and former Olympic boxer. Skilled by his father’s tutelage and own raw talent, Agassi was invited to harness his game at Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Florida—one of the most grueling tennis camps in the country.
During this period, Agassi experienced a time of rebelliousness, piercing his ear as a means to showcase his disdain for tennis. Despite his personal conflicts with the game, Agassi continued his training and became a tennis master. His best skills were:
- Hitting the ball as hard as he could
- Owning the court as a baseline player
- Executing exceptional hand-eye coordination
- Crushing forehand and backhand shots with tremendous speed
- Returning serves better than anyone
In 1997, Agassi experienced personal and professional difficulties. With no tournament victories to speak of that year, the former number-one player was introduced to illegal drugs. During this dark time, he suffered from addiction, lied to the Association of Tennis Professionals, and fell into a deep depression. Would this be the end of Andre Agassi?
No! The tennis legend cleaned himself up and launched a career-defining comeback in 1999. With a newfound focus on tennis, Agassi took home three more major titles before retiring in 2006.
Here are some other facts about Andre Agassi that might resonate with today’s junior tennis player, parents, or coaches. Andre Agassi:
- Was born with a spinal abnormality and suffered from back problems
- Was forced to deal with other people’s criticisms of him
- Suffered from self-image and body issues
- Became obsessed with his appearance and how people perceived him
- Overcame drug addiction
What can we learn from Andre Agassi? Resilience. Commitment. Acceptance. You can use these characteristics as talking points when encouraging your junior tennis players. For example:
There will be times where you feel like you can’t go on. There will be times when you doubt yourself. There will be times when you want to quit. But being resilient means being able to press on, silencing your self-doubt, and striving to finish no matter what. Resilience is strength in the face of our fears. Remember the old saying: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
If you want to be great, prove it. Show up every day with a winning attitude and commitment to play your best game. But don’t just be committed to winning. Be committed to sportsmanship and tennis etiquette. Be the player you want to see in others. Ask yourself what it means to be a good athlete and high-quality human being. Do you have what it takes? Prove it.
It takes a lot of personal strength to accept who you are as a person. At times, you may not like the way you feel about yourself or others. Hiding behind something you’re not will not change who you are or how you feel about yourself. When you are ready to accept yourself for who you are, you will learn to love life a lot more!
For more good ways to help your young athlete stay engaged in the sport they love, check out our some of our other blogs!