Re: Andre & Steffi, Jaden & Jaz
Graf and Agassi find love off the court
April 4, 2007 — Tennis legends Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi have won just about every tennis title, but now they've settled into their present-day titles: husband and wife and mother and father.
These two giants of tennis — one quiet and steady, the other rambunctious with a lot to say — made an unlikely pair that turned out to be the perfect match.
In 1988, Graf, a German-born tennis player with a fierce forehand, won all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal.
During the same era, Agassi, a rebellious American, sported a funky hairdo and had a famous wife, actress Brooke Shields.
"There wasn't really a direct contact really between us," Graf said.
"She would practice from 8 to 10 in the morning and … I wouldn't wake up till noon," Agassi said. "I would count maybe twice that we were together, and once because we, we won Wimbledon the same year."
From afar, Agassi silently admired Graf's steadiness.
"You see the way she goes about her life, and you go, 'Wait a second, that's everything I wish I could do,'" he said.
After his marriage to Shields ended, Agassi gathered the courage to ask Graf to practice with him.
"I kind of was talking to my coach and … it's like, why does he want to practice with me? He's like, 'What do you think?" Graf said, laughing.
In two years' time, the prince and princess of the court married. Graf had retired at the top of her game.
"I used to watch her hit balls and say, 'You could play right now and you could go straight back to No.  in the world,'" Agassi said. "And she just would shake her head like, one day you'll understand."
Now, Agassi said, he does understand.
Seven years later, he followed suit and retired. Now, the couple split their time between their nonprofit work and their children, Jaden and Jaz.
Graf said having Agassi at home more often was great.
"He'll drop off, you know, one of the two at — at the preschool and, and then we — we switch in the afternoons," she said.
"We've had a minivan. Now we have two hybrids," Agassi said.
Agassi said the secret to their off-the-court success was luck.
"Sometimes it's more important to be lucky than good. We're lucky. I mean we, we really are," he said. "Stef has always been a lady of few words but many, but many actions. And, and that's, that's profound. It's profound, and it, it inspires me."
During the height of her success, Graf was known as being very private with media.
"I'm just not very comfortable in front of the cameras," Graf said. "But you know, that's one of the things where you know, he helps me with, you know, just communication and opening up and … trusting."
The couple now have three chalkboards in their house, including one in the kitchen that Agassi calls Graf's appreciation board. He uses it to write messages to his wife every night.
"I always dreamt one day about having a chalkboard in the kitchen for some reason," he said. "She got me this chalkboard because it was important to me and it was one of the ways that she sort of noticed what's important to me and in doing so, that chalkboard became her appreciation board."
"So every night, I just take a moment and that's all you really have to do in life, is stop long enough to, to see what's there. … And she makes that easy."
Graf enjoys the board.
"Every morning I go down to the kitchen and prepare the bottles for the little one, and I'll be able to read, you know, something very special for the day," she said.
The board's message the day of the interview was: "Thank you … for being there for the kids."
"We're the same in a lot of important ways, and we're opposite in a lot of important ways," Agassi said. "You know, I mean we both like to do things fast. We go grocery shopping. It's just in and out."
"But then, you know, my dramas are different than her dramas and — and we're both able to be the other side for that one in those times," he said. "I don't know how you sort of explain it or put into words those sort of little, little miracles that happen every day."