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Old 11-11-2006, 01:47 PM   #226
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

Why didn't Andre participated at the masters in 2004? Did he withdraw..?
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:46 AM   #227
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He was supposed to be the alternate player as he's ranked #9 (if i remember correctly) and chose not to turn up.
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Old 11-12-2006, 05:41 PM   #228
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yes i remember now he didn't show up. Weird that he was only #9 that year.
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Old 11-15-2006, 12:37 AM   #229
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

Andre Agassi and wife Stefanie, competing Saturday in the game room
at ESPN Zone in New York-New York.

What is that and can tell someone more about it?
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Old 11-20-2006, 07:30 PM   #230
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

Great article about Andre's mental game.

Uncovering Agassi’s Mental Edge



By John F. Murray, Ph.D

He gave his absolute best on the court, played with a flair and grace that few will match, and kept giving fans what they wanted long after his body said stop. In a grateful spirit for his many lessons of passion and competitiveness, let’s have one more tribute to the legend that was Agassi.

I was always aware of how great Andre was. He appeared calm under pressure, ripped the ball from corner to corner with amazing power and precision, and displayed tremendous sportsmanship. But I had never spoke with him nor coached against him until this year – his last year on the tour - at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

I was working that week with Ramon Delgado from Paraguay. Ramon beat Bobby Reynolds in the first round before we both looked up on the large drawsheet and saw the name “Andre Agassi” as the upcoming opponent. Time to get to work!

Delgado was a great mental training student. He kept cool, stayed resilient and focused on each and every point win or lose, and fought like crazy. Ramon won the first set over Andre and had two match points leading 6-5 in the second set. It was at this point that Agassi put on his superman cape and showed why he is legendary. He had done it so many times before, but this was the first time I had viewed it as a competitor … and it was simply awesome! Facing repeat match points against the Davis Cup star, Andre narrowed his focus to a laser-beam quality, surprised Ramon by serving-and-volleying when he had stayed back all match, and hit consecutive winning volleys on the outside of the lines for winners. Andre won the match. Ramon was devastated … and I was heartbroken for him. But inside I also knew that I had just seen one of the greatest tennis players of all time do it again.

After the tournament, Delgado thanked me for the coaching, and said he played well, but no sport psychology in the world that day was going to overcome this legend. The only thing Ramon could say when I saw him later, and asked him about Agassi’s play on those two match points was “unbelievable…just unbelievable,” and those words just about sum up Andre! In my eyes, he is right up there with Joe Montana, Jack Nicklaus, and Michael Jordan.

But why was he so great? He did not have Ivo Karlovic’s height or Pete Sampras’ serve. A significant part of his greatness can from his mind. Let’s take a closer look at what made Agassi so mentally refined.

Reviewing Agassi’s on-court performances and listening to some of his post-match comments sheds light on the mindset of a very rare player who constantly found ways to play smart tennis.

Agassi’s service and groundstroke accuracy were usually dominant. He did not serve with the velocity of Roddick, but he found the corners, hit aces and winners, and reduced errors. Coaches are right in saying that consistency is still a huge weapon in tennis! Consistency in making the correct decision on where to hit the serve. Consistency in executing the shot. Consistency in hitting more winners than unforced errors. Consistency in being Agassi.

Agassi was also more aggressive than most opponents on his groundstrokes, more accurate on his approach shots, and dominant once he got to the net. The bottom line is that Agassi played better tennis. But what was going on in his mind? What attitudes did he take to his matches — long before he hit any balls? This is the unseen advantage that is often forgotten.

Let’s examine some comments he made in post-match interviews:

Turning Adversity into Advantage

Agassi viewed strong wind and other potential distractions as advantages. He once said, "today was certainly a great day for me, serving-wise. I think specifically because it was breezy. Any time you can get a good percentage of first serves in, especially on key points, in windy conditions, it's a big advantage. I did that well today." What an amazing attitude. Something we can all learn from. Rather than making excuses, he realized there is indeed a silver lining in every cloud!

Staying Hopeful and Confident

The way we frame things is often more important than the supposed reality. Agassi stayed very positive in his thinking. Once, asked about the upcoming clay season, he said, "I feel great about how I feel mentally … very positive going on to the clay season, hopeful that everything is going to stay together." Henry Ford once said "whether you think you can or think you can’t — you are right." Most people in Ford’s day asked why cars were necessary when there were horses all around. Agassi thought like Ford did, and how you should too.

Not Over-thinking in a Match

Despite all the great mental tips and suggestions, once a match begins it’s auto-pilot time. It’s much better to just play tennis and let habits take over than to over-think. Agassi once said, "I try not to assess how I’m playing until after the fact. And then after the fact, I can look at it and be objective."

Focusing without Fear

Agassi knew what it meant to stay focused without letting fear intrude. In discussing the number of matches he had to play in a row once, he said, "there's nothing really about it that you worry about getting through so many matches, so you just focus on executing opportunities that you do get and try to create as many as possible." So many players worry. Keep it simple and keep the focus on what you are doing now.

Remaining Extremely Confident

Agassi assumed that someone else was going to have to play well to beat him. Listen to his comment: "I'm thinking about preparing myself properly to be at my best for Paris; to make somebody play a great match to beat me. It's as simple as that." Wow. Enough said.

Working Hard

Throw out all the mental tips in the world if you don’t work! When asked if he had found the fountain of youth and was just not telling anyone, Agassi smiled and said, "No, no, it's hard work."

Agassi won our hearts and minds throughout his career. He blew away opponents with both physical and mental superiority, and he seemed like a good guy on top of all of that! He loved his fans and so his fans loved him back. If you look at his accuracy and consistency in executing shots, then review his attitudes and insights, you realize that the mental game is much more than a few clever tips to play smart tennis. The thoughts, feelings, habits and sensations always control the actions. When it all works together brilliantly, you get that one-in-a-million guy named Agassi. He was a legend. I was fortunate to meet and try to out-coach him, without success. His example lives in all our future lessons. Thanks Andre!

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Old 11-20-2006, 08:10 PM   #231
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That`s really a great article!
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Old 11-28-2006, 06:38 PM   #232
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

some new pic from wireimages



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Old 11-28-2006, 06:40 PM   #233
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Old 11-28-2006, 10:47 PM   #234
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

Some information about Round-Up on this web site

http://www.agassifoundation.org/

A great idea!
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Old 11-29-2006, 10:36 PM   #235
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It's official: Andre will be featured on Barbara Walter's 10 Most Fascinating People list in December.

-----------------------------
Agassi Earns Top 10 Spot
by Tennis Week
11/29/2006

Andre Agassi is back in the top 10 — alongside hip hop star Jay-Z, Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour and actor Patrick Dempsey. The eight-time Grand Slam champion has been selected as one of the "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006."

Agassi will be among the top ten most fascinating people in "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006." The hour-long special will air on ABC on Tuesday, December 12 at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
-----------------------------

I will tape it, of course!
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"What kind of shape am I in now? Well round is a shape." said Roddick with a laugh. "I had a very detailed retirement plan, and I feel like I've met every aspect of it: a lot of golf, a lot of carbs, a lot of fried food, and some booze, occasionally — I've been completely committed ... The results have shown."


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Old 11-29-2006, 10:47 PM   #236
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

I was at the doctor's office the other day to get my flu drugs and what do I see? Andre Agassi on the cover of WebMD magazine.

Quote:
http://www.webmd.com/content/article/128/117187.htm
Andre Agassi's Battle With Back Pain

After fighting painful, chronic back pain for years, tennis great Andre Agassi retires from the court and prepares to serve up the next chapter of his life.

On Sept. 3, as he said goodbye to his fans at the U.S. Open, retiring tennis star Andre Agassi dabbed away tears. His lower lip quivered while he spoke, his voice on the verge of breaking during the minute-long farewell.

"You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you," he told the crowd at New York's Arthur Ashe Stadium.

For those watching, it was one of two indelible images from the final moments of Agassi's storied 21-year career. The other image is of Agassi in pain, his agile body seizing up during his last match, his long-injured back rebelling against the demands long made upon it.

Agassi, 36, had announced his retirement six weeks before, at Wimbledon. Though many factors influenced his decision, "I can't suggest that the pain didn't play a big part," he says. "It starts with your body and moves to your mind."

Asked how long he'd been suffering from back problems, he thought for a moment before timing it to a milestone in his life: his son's birth. Five years ago.

"It was a physical issue that grew to be a real physical concern," Agassi says of the degenerative disc disease spondylolisthesis, which caused one of the vertebrae in his lower back to slip out of place. As the disease progressed, the disc began pinching his sciatic nerve, a condition called sciatica that causes low back pain that shoots down the leg. By the end of the Open, even the injections of cortisone and other anti-inflammatories that he'd been taking since March could no longer help. He lost his final match to 25-year-old Benjamin Becker, a German who'd turned pro the year before and was ranked 112.

Still, when it was over, thunderous applause filled Arthur Ashe Stadium. The crowd gave Agassi a four-minute standing ovation as he rested in a courtside chair before making his goodbyes. To Agassi, it was not a loss. He had accomplished what he set out to do: finish the match, despite the pain.

"It was such a perfect end to what I consider to be a wonderful journey," Agassi says. "My goal was to do this as long as possible, and even if I'd been in a healthy place, I would have had to make this decision eventually."

When WebMD spoke with Agassi, about a month after his final match, he had yet to begin adapting to his new life. In fact, he says, it's business as usual.

"Of course, I [no longer] have to worry about training, about physical rehabilitation. I don't have to focus in those confines. But I'm as busy now, if not busier. It's quite typical, really. After each of the last 11 Opens, I've tended to shut down a bit and try to make up for lost time," he says. "My goals and commitments are always pushing me forward. I don't think the new lifestyle has been felt yet."

One thing he doesn't feel anymore, he says, is the pain.

"Now, I'm fine. I haven't been pushing my body to its limits. Tennis -- it's a pretty ballistic sport that we play. The pain has been a function of what I've asked of my body."

Born to Win

Agassi played his first professional match at age 16. But tennis had been part of his life even before he was conscious of it. As an infant, a tennis ball dangled above him as he lay in his crib, hung there by his father, a former boxer who had represented his native Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi, who immigrated to the United States as a young man and settled in Las Vegas, wanted his child to be a champion.

He got his wish. In 1992, Andre, his fourth child, took the title at Wimbledon. He was 22.

Victory piled upon victory, as Agassi won both the U.S. and the Australian Opens, rising to No. 1 in the three years after Wimbledon. He became famous, however, for more than just his playing. Agassi brought an upstart's attitude to the game, flouting convention in spandex, denim cutoffs, and rock-star hair. His millions in prize money bought him a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, and three Porsches. On TV, he was the face of the Canon Rebel camera. You remember the slogan: Image Is Everything.

That image was complex, though. For the cameras, Agassi was all flash. But there was another side to him. In 1994, he founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised more than $60 million for recreational and educational programs for at-risk children in southern Nevada. The foundation continues to support both the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club and the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, both in Las Vegas.

The same year, an injured wrist drastically reduced his ability to compete, and he played only 24 matches that season, less than a third of what he played in previous ones. His ranking plummeted to 141 in 1997. He found himself competing in Challenger Series tournaments, a circuit for pro players who couldn't make the top 50.

From that low point came a new focus on the game. Agassi discarded his flashy getup and donned conservative tennis whites. (He started shaving his head in 1995.) He worked out until his body was in the best shape it had ever been. He rethought and reworked his game. And he began the climb back to No. 1.

In 1998, he rocketed from 141 to 6. No player had gone from so low to so high so quickly. By 2003, he had won eight Grand Slam titles. He is one of only five players to win all four Grand Slam singles events.

Agassi's home life changed direction as well. His first marriage, to actress Brooke Shields, ended in divorce in 1999. Two and a half years later, Agassi married retired tennis great Steffi Graf. They have two children: 5-year-old Jaden and a daughter, Jaz Elle, 3.

Playing Through Pain

By the time of his last Grand Slam victory -- the 2003 Australian Open -- Agassi's back had been hurting for months.

"I thought it was my hip," says Agassi, who says his only mistake in caring for his back was not getting it diagnosed sooner.

Would an earlier diagnosis have made any difference? Probably not, says Alan S. Hilibrand, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery and director of orthopaedic medical education at Jefferson Medical College and the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia.

"From age 20 on, all people experience a process of drying out of the discs in the spine. In other words, everyone has degenerative disc disease," says Hilibrand, who is also a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Those discs act as cushions between vertebrae, helping to hold them in place. As they dry out, they begin to lose this ability, and the likelihood of one of the vertebrae slipping increases. When that starts to happen, the resulting condition is known as degenerative spondylolisthesis.

Lower back pain is the most obvious symptom, though many people have no symptoms at all. The drying out of the discs, says Hilibrand, can lead to painful tears in the fiber that surrounds them. How severe the pain is varies from person to person. "Some people, for genetic reasons, are very susceptible to that pain," he says.

Athletes have an advantage over couch potatoes when it comes to preventing back pain. Why? Because their strong trunk muscles are better able to support the spine, Hilibrand explains. They can also withstand a lot of suffering.

"Agassi obviously has very strong trunk muscles, but I don't think he would have gotten where he did without a great tolerance for pain."

This type of back pain is very familiar to Justin Gimelstob, a 27-year-old professional tennis player and friend of Agassi's. He underwent emergency back surgery in early September and at the U.S. Open suddenly found himself with two herniated or slipped discs after eight or nine years of back pain.

"The sport is tough on the back," says Gimelstob, who has commiserated with Agassi over their suffering. What frustrates athletes like Gimelstob is that the pain often strikes without warning, throwing off his rhythm. It was the same for Agassi, he says: "That's what Andre was feeling -- that inability to be properly prepared when you don't know what's going to happen."

Agassi’s New Routine

Agassi doesn't anticipate needing surgery, especially now that he is out of the game. So, what is he preparing for now? In addition to his continued work with his foundation, he's bound to keep competing, if not on the court then in his new business ventures. He and Graf are working on an international chain of resort communities. They also unveiled plans for a luxury hotel, the Fairmont Tamarack, in Idaho.

"It's a lane change, not an exit," Agassi says of his new projects.

No matter how strenuous his new work may be, it won't require the superhuman physical conditioning demanded of him by tennis. And that's just fine with Agassi. For now, he's quite happy to miss a workout or two -- or three.

"To go to the gym and train now would feel more empty than focused," he says. "[Physical training] will always be a part of my life, but right now there would be too much nostalgia."
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"What kind of shape am I in now? Well round is a shape." said Roddick with a laugh. "I had a very detailed retirement plan, and I feel like I've met every aspect of it: a lot of golf, a lot of carbs, a lot of fried food, and some booze, occasionally — I've been completely committed ... The results have shown."


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Old 11-29-2006, 11:24 PM   #237
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Thanks for the article!!
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Old 11-30-2006, 04:58 AM   #238
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Tennis stars Agassi, Graf lose $3 million on mansion sale
Posted 11/29/2006 5:44 PM ET

TIBURON, Calif. (AP) — Retired tennis stars Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf have agreed to sell their mansion overlooking San Francisco Bay for $20 million — $3 million less than it sold for five years ago.
The 13,000-square-foot estate is being sold to Stuart Peterson, the chief of a hedge fund that invested early in the YouTube video-sharing website, according to Bill Bullock, whose real estate firm represents the couple. YouTube agreed last month to be acquired by Google for $1.65 billion dollars.

Agassi and Graf live most of the year in Las Vegas and had been asking $24.5 million for the property, which features 11 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a home theater, two pools, a tennis court and helicopter landing pad.

Agassi's financial advisers wanted him to get rid of the little-used compound to save on the cost of upkeep, Bullock said.

The deal was expected to close in January.
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:04 PM   #239
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Default Re: ** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! **

A great blog entry about Andre from Peter Bodo.

Becoming the Change
Posted 11/29/2006 @ 11 :09 PM
So when I was invited to this March of Dimes annual awards ceremony at the elegant and decidedly old-school Waldorf-Astoria, I figured I'd drift on over, maybe get a word with Andre Agassi, who was being honored as Sportsman of the Year. Maybe ask Danica Patrick (the INDY car driver who selected MoD's Sportswoman of the Year) if she has any strong feelings about him. That kind of thing.

Well, it turns out that this annual sports luncheon (23rd, and counting) is a pretty big deal. The March of Dimes is a great outfit; I remember collecting money for them in a tin can when I was a kid, at around the time that the organization was a driving force behind the elimination of Polio.

It wasn't so long ago that Polio was still a heartbreaking, crippling disease, and it occurs to me that the March of Dimes campaigns may be where the expression "poster child" originated.

I can still remember the children on those "help eradicate Polio" posters - and real, live kids in the neighborhood - hobbling around in those wretched metal leg braces and crutches.

Hats off the the March of Dimes; these days their primary mission is combating infant mortality and premature births, and the lethal dangers associated with it.

It seemed like half of Media City turned out for this event (the powerful half, including folks like Sean McManus, President of CBS News and Sports and luncheon chairman, Dick Ebersol of NBC sports, Bob Basche, of sports marketers Millsport (and a long-time NBC hand at Wimbledon), David Stern, commissioner of the NBA, Paul Tagliabue, the outgoing NFL commissioner). I got there early, but even the small room reserved for the pre-luncheon media event was soon filling up with network execs and peripheral media types. Oddly enough, there were no working representatives from mainstream media outlets.

Before things got too hectic, I bumped into Bert Sugar, the boxing icon who's a living embodiment of everything that makes The Sweet Science such a compelling and uproarious sport. "The bar isn't even open yet," Bert growled, unlit cigar in his mouth. "Five thousand of these things and I still can't get it right."

Without looking up, the bartender said: "What are you having, Bert?"

Now, that's impressive.

"Bloody." Bert growled.

And what does Bert, the Godfather of Boxing, think of Andre?

"He's not the most colorful in the crowd, but then I liked the Connors and McEnroe era myself. Mac was an okay guy but that Connors - what a pain in the ass. Tell you what I like about Agassi, though - he's one of my favorite clues in a crossword puzzle. It's all those vowels. I'm telling you, he and Felipe Alou (hall of fame baseball player) are my two favorite athletes for that reason."

Hmmmm. . .

But the celebletes were soon drifting in: Billie Jean King, Patrick, a couple of top WNBA players whose names you'll forgive me for not knowing or remembering (Donna Orender, President of the WNBA, was given the MoD Sports Leadership award), Patrick McEnroe, Jim Courier, luncheon chairman Hannah Storm, my old pal Frank DeFord. . . No Andre, though.

I worked the room a little. I got hold of Danica Patrick, an intense woman with black eyes and black hair. She said some nice things about Andre, but nothing interesting enough to quote, or even remember. I caught up with Pat Mac and Jim Courier some, talked dogs with Basche. Hannah Storm, who covered almost 10 Wimbledon tournaments for NBC, made an interesting remark about Andre: "He was a player people really invested in emotionally, he always moved emotion. That's not so common, especially among male athletes."

Billie Jean told me that Agassi's wife, Steffi, wasn't going to play World Team Tennis next year, because she almost collapsed from nerves in her single outing this past summer. Still, Billie said, wide-eyed, "You should have seen how emotional she was.Steffi! She was running around, high-fiving everyone. In some ways, she loved it." Billie also told me that Pat Rafter probably won't play WTT next year; seems it would take too much effort to stay in shape (Lazy sack of Vegemite, that one, eh?). She said he still has that spring in his legs though; he can get to a wide serve with the best of them. "That's one of the first things that goes, you know," Billie said. "That ability to explode to either side."

Still, no Andre, but you always learn something, talking to Billie.

The room was getting more and more hot and crowded. Official luncheon time was approaching. No way I get to talk with Andre under these circumstances, I figured. Then, I spotted him. He had slipped into the room, and they had him at a table for the official awards photos with his fellow honorees (the fourth honoree was Ross Greenberg, the tennis broadcast pioneer and head of HBO Sports). When they finished with that, they hustled Andre over to do a sit down with Sports New York cable network. I stood nearby and watched. Ever notice that Andre's head is a flat as the deck of an aircraft carrier? It's kind of cool looking, actually. He was a little fidgety, toying with his ring finger, and I noticed there was no wedding band on it. Sure sign of a tennis player who actually uses his left hand.

When Andre got up, we made eye contact. I stepped forward to shake his hand and he lit up and threw his arms around me, which made me feel good. We've always had a great relationship but for one horrible episode that was no fault of my own, and not worth going into here. Andre was always an animated guy, but he seemed so relaxed and happy at the moment that I had a realization: The Andre we had seen for, oh, the last 18-or-so months of his career was not the man complete. He was operating at perhaps 60 per cent of his natural ebullience, which still throws more sparks than most of his peers in full glory.

Conclusion: The thoughtfullness that we had come to associate with Andre - Oh, those incredibly reflective ruminations on the X's and O's of the game! Oh, those sublimely diplomatic renderings of his thoughts on retirement and career! - had been for a long time colored by tristesse, a wistfulness that dampened his spirit, if not his combative verve, in those waning days.

By contrast, today he resembled a liberated man; the guy who had just completed an enormous job, and done it so well that there was nothing else he could do at this point but exude the satisfaction and pride that accompanies the successful endeavor.

I told Andre he looked great and patted his tummy.

"Oh I'm staying in shape," he said, smiling. "And I'm enjoying it."

Did he watch the ATP Championships?

"Yeah, I did. It was great, I really enjoyed it. It was all of the good and none of the bad. I didn't have to worry about how the guy I was playing next looked, or how this result is going to impact the draw or anything like that. I really enjoyed it."

A sharp-dressed guy thrust a pen and a handful of pictures between us, looking for autographs. "Not now," Andre said, politely and firmly. "This isn't the right time."

I told him about how passionateTennisWorld's readers are; how just mentioning that I might see him today triggered an outpouring of admiration and respect from you all yesterday. "Your fans are dying to hear what you're going to be doing, tennis-wise. Going into the booth to do any commentary or anything like that?"

"No, I don't think so. Not now. I love talking tennis, you know that. But it's not the vehicle for me now. But I'll be around. I'm trying to bring it all together - the business and the philanthropy, tennis and all that ties into. I'm working on bringing that all together so it can impact lives and make a real difference."

By then, a pretty big crowd had gathered around us. One lady who had visited the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy stepped forward and introduced herself. A fellow anxious to get Andre's attention tugged at the back of his suit jacket. Andre fended him off. "I hate it when people start pulling me this way and that."

And the kids? I asked.

"You know what's great? That I can see them on my own terms now. It isn't like, I have this little slot here because I have to go practice now, or go play a match. It's natural."

Someone was flicking the lights on and off, it was time to go into the ballroom for the luncheon. "I better go," Andre said. "Just stay close, we'll talk after."

By then, it was after 1 PM, and I had to be up at my boy Luke's school to pick him up at 2:30. It was going to be tight. It turned out that because I had not planned to attend the luncheon, I didn't even have a seat. So I sat on a chair, back with the wait staff. I thought about Andre, and what a remarkable, seemingly improbable role he had created for himself, carving it out of doubt, confusion, even a measure of self-loathing, it seemed, for in my experience few people who have achieved anything worth remembering have not been hard on themselves, or had someone be hard on them, a pretty good ticket to the same destination.

Mike Agassi, Andre's father, had been hard on him. Andre, from about the time he made his late career resurgence, had been hard on himself. And for all of Andre's sensitivity, and the penumbra of calmness that now surrounds him, you can see traces of, if not exactly hardness, then the smoothness that characterizes a hard object that has been buffed and polished, polished and buffed.

You can see that in the many ascetic touches: the simplicity of his clothing, the measured, almost clipped speech (is there a public man who so precisely says exactly what he means, and always with an interesting, almost epigrammatic turn of phrase?), that embrace of baldness, a condition from which so many less secure men flee. I thought about the top of his head; a stone, worn by water. I laughed to myself.

The videos and speeches went on, as they're apt to do; Andre was the last and most important person honored.

He was introduced by Jim Courier, who said: "I remember the first time I played Andre, in a 12-and-under event in San Diego. We both had soup-bowl haircuts. Even then, his strokes were so clean, so smooth, the we all knew he'd be a great player. Now we also know he's a great man."

Jim got the laugh of the day when he said that it was tough enough for Andre to be the second best athlete in his household; having seen his kids, Jaden and Jas, on the trampoline in the backyard of the Agassi's home in Las Vegas, Jim also had the feeling that "The way things are going, he'll be sliding down even further on that scale."

And as he was wrapping up his introduction, Jim talked about a visit to Agassi Prep, and how he was struck by one of the many quotations on the wall, this one from Gandhi: Become the change you want to see.

When Andre got to the podium, he said, "New York, you're going to make me cry again."

Then he did something that is typical of Agassi these days. His predecessors on the stage had made nice acceptance speeches. Greenburg spoke about his own family's experience with premature birth. Danica Patrick had spoken of what it was like to be a girl growing up wanting to be a race car driver. Donna Orender had waxed eloquent on a similar theme, but gone on too long and with too much undisguised promotion of the NBA and WBA. Andre said nothing about his career in tennis. He opened his formal acceptance by saying, "Thirteen years ago, I realized that caring isn't enough. Caring isn't doing."

Then he went on to outline his history in charitable work, about how the most important thing he had learned was that you couldn't reach a child in need early enough. He turned the attention of the guests to the March of Dimes, reminding the audience that the group has a "thankless" job, "solving problems that the world will never see." It was a command performance; the charity event equivalent of one of his better post-match press conferences.

It's all post-match for Andre now, but not post-significance. It's probably closer to pre-significance, given his intentions and dedication to fine causes.

It was almost two-thirty, and I was worried about my own child. As the luncheon broke up, I worked my way through the crowd to Andre and told him, "Andre, I've got to go pick up my kid at school, can we catch up some time soon, maybe out in Vegas or something?"

He smiled. "Sure, call me anytime. We'll knock a few down. Hey, what am I doing?"

It was, all in all, a curious thing for him to say for a man who was busy becoming the change he wanted to see.



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Old 12-06-2006, 01:59 PM   #240
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