These days, Pete Sampras chases after his sons instead of tournament titles.
Gone is the Sampras who pursued tennis glory across the world, piling up 64 ATP singles titles and 14 grand slams during a 15-year career in which he earned more than $43 million in prize money.
Now it�s a mad dash to get Christian and Ryan to school on time.
"Getting out the door by 7:45 a.m., we�re racing," Sampras said.
Still, Sampras� life has slowed considerably since he retired eight years ago. A typical day in Brentwood, Calif., he said, involves hitting tennis balls in the morning, having lunch with wife Bridgette and squeezing in some golf before school gets out and it�s time to pick up the kids.
"I�m not a business guy," he said. "I�m an athlete. I go out and hit a couple of hours and I feel good about it. Nothing crazy, but it�s something to focus on."
He�ll come to Omaha on Dec. 3 for the Rock & Racquets event at Qwest Center Omaha. He and Andy Roddick will team up to play U.S. Open champions Mike and Bob Bryan in doubles and then take on each other. The Bryans also will perform with their band.
For a few years after he retired, Sampras wanted nothing to do with tennis. He felt exhausted and emotionally done with the sport.
He didn�t pick up a racquet and didn�t want to talk about the game, either. Instead, he hit the links. He even put on a few pounds.
"I wanted to get away and decompress," he said. "I enjoyed some things I never had a chance to do."
But after a time, Sampras said, he needed some structure. He started hitting a little bit and it felt good to be back in shape.
Exhibitions came next. He played one with Andre Agassi, another retired great, on Saturday.
"After a while, a man needs to work a little bit," he said. "Most people are starting out at 31. I was finishing at 31."
He says playing makes him a better father and husband. And although it�s nothing like the schedule he used to have, he enjoys the chance to get out and play.
Although he�s far removed from professional tennis, Sampras said he still loves watching. He saw parts of Rafael Nadal�s win over Novak Djokovic for the U.S. Open title.
"Nadal is just an incredible athlete. Mentally and physically he�s as strong as anyone I�ve ever seen," Sampras said. "He�s just 24. Mentally and physically if he stays strong, he�ll win as many majors as anyone."
"Arguably, he�s the player of his decade, he and Roger."
Although Roger Federer at 29 is close in age to when he retired, Sampras said the Swiss star still enjoys playing and traveling. It�s something that no longer held any joy for Sampras.
"I wouldn�t count Roger out by any means," Sampras said. "Week in and week out, I don�t necessarily see him being as consistent as he used to be. He�s accomplished so much, but the motivation gets tougher as you get older."
Roddick, he said, has had a great career, although he�s faced stiff competition. Sampras said it could be years before the U.S. sees special times like when he, Agassi and Jim Courier were competing.
"The media, they want the champion of the U.S. Open and Wimbledon to be an American. I don�t see that happening any time soon," he said. "Roger and Nadal, they are clearly a level beyond anyone else."
Sampras says he misses the majors, being in that last match on a Sunday at Flushing Meadows. The Super Bowl, he called it. He does not miss the day-to-day grind or the stress of being the best player in the world.
"I had ups and downs and went through a lot," he said. "At the same time, I was playing a sport as a living, which is every man�s dream."
He's not sure if tennis is a path that his sons will take, although he took it up around age 5 when he found a racquet in his family�s basement.
The boys are athletic, he said, but he�s been introducing them to golf. It�s a game he loves and finds challenging. And he�ll have a lot more time for it, he said, now that school is back in session. They had a crazy summer, and he says it�s time, too, to reconnect with his wife.
"Retirement is a work in progress," he said. "I have a pretty good balance. Playing tennis, family time and having fun playing golf. It took a while to get here. I like it."