Do you love Andre Agassi too?

Andre Agassi

How do you explain the love affair between Andre Agassi and Wimbledon?

He had pigeon toes, bandy legs, no serve to speak of and he didn’t really like grass as a surface, yet somehow Wimbledon grew to love Andre Agassi and Agassi loved Wimbledon.


What could the world’s oldest tennis tournament, with its archaic clothing rules and grand traditions, possibly have in common with a player from Las Vegas who made television advertisements declaring “image is everything”?

In the early days, Agassi was a teenage human billboard with high profile sponsorship deals and high visibility clothing, yet he was ambivalent about the Championships. After losing in the first round to Henry LeConte in 1987 at the age of 17, Agassi skipped Wimbledon between 1988 and 1990 for various reasons.

“I don’t know why everybody puts so much emphasis on Wimbledon,” said Agassi’s agent Bill Shelton, defending his client’s decision to miss the tournament in 1989. “It’s just another tournament, like the rest. It’s just not in his schedule. Andre needs a rest between the clay season and the hard-court season. He’ll play Wimbledon. Wimbledon is going to be around.”

Jimmy Connors verbalised the thoughts of many Wimbledon fans when he said Agassi was a victory for style of substance. “They’ve tried to create this rebellious image for him and make him look like a big-time winner. But it doesn’t mean very much unless he wins tournaments. He’s nothing more than the product of sponsors’ hype. They have tried so hard to give him the bad-boy appeal of John McEnroe, but they forget that John has always been a winner and a champion. He never needed fancy coloured clothes.”

Connors was spectacularly wrong. Agassi compiled a list of achievements that has put him amongst the tennis greats: one of only five men to win all four Grand Slams; oldest world number one; winner of 60 singles titles; etc. And when it came to substance, he was like an iceberg: what you saw was just the tip. Andy Roddick once asked Agassi for his greatest regret, and Agassi replied it was not starting his charitable foundation earlier.

We can throw stats around all day, but that doesn’t explain the whole Agassi-Wimbledon thing. My question is: when did Wimbledon fall in love with Andre Agassi?

13 Comments

  1. robert
    Posted 13 May, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    i remember andre’s first wimbledon, he was dressed whole in white, even white recquet:-). i’m his fan and can’t be so objective, but he is and will be my one of 2 favourite players. second is ivanisevic for whom people long thought that he can only serve. again wrong….

  2. Alona
    Posted 14 May, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    why not? c”,)

  3. Frances Ashford
    Posted 16 May, 2009 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Wish I could be there to savour the wonderful atmosphere. Would love to see Andre & Steffi play here ‘Down Under’ again.

  4. Audrey
    Posted 16 May, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I have loved watching this man from the days when he was a technicolour blur round a tennis court.
    He made tennis exciting to watch, there was never a dull moment.
    He has charm, charisma, and somthing very appealing….he also had a personality!
    He was also my all time favourite so I am slightly biased
    I was very sad when he retired, we will never see the like of him again.
    I can’t wait to see him and Steffi tomorrow.

  5. Susan
    Posted 16 May, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    It was because of Andre Agassi that I became a tennis fan in the first place. I will never forget the year 1992 – as it was the year that Andre had his Grand Slam breakthrough by winning Wimbledon after 3 GS heartaches. I was crying with joy (together with him) as he hoisted the trophy up into the sky. This has effectively put to rest the famous “no substance” nonsense that the critics had branded him all those years!!!

  6. Nancie Austin
    Posted 16 May, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Andre grew up on Wimbledon courts. There is where he really becam a man. I love the man and his now attitude.

  7. Vicky Starbuck
    Posted 17 May, 2009 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    No one has brought as much to make tennis as exciting as Andre Agassi. He is and always will be the star in my eyes. He brought so much to the game besides pure talent and charisma. No one will ever measure up to Andre. When he stepped out on the court, we always knew we were in for the best match possible. Thank you
    Andre for all the pleasure you brought to us each time you stepped on the court.

  8. Gareth Turley
    Posted 19 May, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Although football/soccer is my favourite sport andre agassi is my all time sporting hero, that says it all. Andre was amazing on all tennis services and although being blighted by injury’s he consistently got to the latter stages of all slams. I felt the agony and the ecstasy every time he played, he brought out the best in his rivals. Above all i think he is a modest, charitable, good and an inspirational person to all. Thanks for the memories.

  9. Richard Crabtree
    Posted 26 August, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy Connors was not wrong when he accused Agassi of style over substance. That is because the comment was made prior to Agassi winning a slam and during his garboesque 3 year absence from Wimbledon.

    3 years is a long time in a young sportsman’s career and it is notable that Andre’s main achievement prior to 1992 had only been the Lipton’s at Key Biscane. That would be fine for a Tim Mayotte or Brad Gilbert but given Andre’s amazing ball skills this was a poor return. The period 1988 to 1992 could reasonably be described as “style over substance”. It should also be remembered that his peers (Chang, Sampras, Courier) had all won slams during this period.

  10. Posted 22 September, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s great to see Andre enjoying retirement after such an amazing, prolific career. He is a driving force behind a number of really important causes and has also found his niche as a sought-after celebrity speaker. After giving the world so much joy when he was playing, I say GOOD FOR HIM!

  11. Joanna
    Posted 4 January, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Andre is great in all ways, he was a real person on and off the court, always entertaining, always great to watch!! Miss those days! I remember jumping out my seat and shouting at the tv watching his matches, I cant say I have done that in a long time. xx bless agassi!

  12. Posted 26 July, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Agassi is extremely likable and here in my community is an absolute icon. He continually gives back to locals and goes out of his way to represent himself and tennis with class and elegance. Not everyone in his position gives so much back to the community.

  13. Mungo
    Posted 18 September, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Connors is also notoriously egotistical and rude, and Agassi, having been on the receiving end of that rudeness several times, took pleasure in tonking him soundly at the 1989 US Open.


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