In this interview that Andre gave at the Charity event at the weekend, the former World Number One commits to playing in 2006, and then taking it from there! So we WILL see Andre at Australia and Wimbledon next year!!!
October 01, 2005
Kid at Heart
Agassi's 'Grand Slam for Children' reaches 10th birthday
By Spencer Patterson <[email protected]
LAS VEGAS SUN
What: Andre Agassi's "Grand Slam for Children" concert, featuring Celine Dion; Usher; Glenn Frey; Robin Williams; Duran Duran; Earth, Wind & Fire; George Lopez; Mary J. Blige.
When was: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Tickets: $100, $150.
Information: (702) 891-7777.
When Andre Agassi hosted his first "Grand Slam for Children" concert, he was 25, single and childless.
None of that stopped the tennis star from formulating a plan to help disadvantaged youths in Southern Nevada.
"I've always had a passion to help children that don't have opportunities or hope in their lives," Agassi said. "Change a child's life, and you change all of our lives."
As Agassi gears up for his charity event's 10th anniversary, his life off the court has changed considerably. He turned 35 in April. He and wife Steffi Graf celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary next month. And the couple are parents to two children: son Jaden, 3, and daughter Jaz, 1.
Agassi says having those kids in his own home has only upped his passion for helping others.
"When you have children of your own, you start to really get a first-hand taste of just what a crime it is for a child not have a fair shot at life," he said. "So it's increased my passion, no question. It's made me even more committed."
Agassi's "Grand Slam for Children" concert returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. Doors open at 8 p.m. At press time, tickets remained, available in both the $100 and $150 sections.
This year's list of performers: Celine Dion; Usher; the Eagles' Glenn Frey; Duran Duran; Earth, Wind & Fire; Mary J. Blige; and comedians Robin Williams and George Lopez.
Composer David Foster will serve as musical director for the 10th year.
The 2005 bill carries on a strong tradition that has drawn such stars as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Luther Vandross, Elton John, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, Ray Romano and Jamie Foxx to the event over the years.
"It starts with a dream list ... and this being our 10th, we really pulled in the ones that we were shooting for," Agassi said. "With Duran Duran and Earth, Wind & Fire ... who over the age of 30 isn't a big fan of theirs? And Celine obviously has proven herself to be such a great talent and great attraction here in town."
Additionally, the show will feature a surprise performer, of whom a coy Agassi would reveal little.
"You don't want to miss it. I don't want to say anything else, but it's pretty exciting," he said.
Proceeds from the Grand Slam concert benefit the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which directs money in several directions, including to the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club, Child Haven, the I Have a Dream Foundation, the YMCA of Southern Nevada and the Las Vegas Sun youth camp fund.
Like Agassi, Frey -- a founding member of the Eagles who has also enjoyed a successful solo career -- has dedicated much of his life to providing assistance for children in need.
"I don't talk about my charity work much, but my wife and I have been involved for 15 years in helping at-risk kids," Frey, 56, said. "It just rings out to me, and I find it to be very satisfying."
Frey is father to three children, and said he feels for those who aren't fortunate enough to live in stable family environments.
"So many kids are victims," he said. "Bad marriages, abusive (parents), poverty ... it's all out there. If you're able to provide for your kids and give them your time, you're lucky."
Frey will be performing in his first Grand Slam event, following in the footsteps of fellow Eagle Don Henley, who participated in 2001.
For Frey, the event also represents a chance to give back to a city he says has been very good to him over the years.
"Every time you go to Vegas you're always getting stuff, getting your room comped. Las Vegas knows how to host its guests, especially its entertainment guests," Frey said. "So I think it's nice to be a good citizen and show up for them. I feel like this is sort of a payback, a chance to do my part."
Frey, who will be back at the MGM Grand with the Eagles on Oct. 15, is also looking forward to the chance to team with Agassi's all-star house band, which includes one-time Eric Clapton road mates Nathan East (bass) and Greg Phillinganes (keyboard).
"It's gonna be fun for me to play with some other guys for a change, especially of that caliber," Frey said.
Agassi's nine Grand Slam concerts have raised more than $42 million, highlighted by the 2003 event, which raised $12.6 million after toy mogul Ty Warner matched the $6.3 million tallied that year.
"When I started the foundation, my goal was to get to a $10 million endowment fund, so we could kick $1 million into the community for forever," Agassi said. "But man, it just grew a life of its own. It's taught me not to set goals, because they always limit you."
High on Agassi's to-do list this year is the continued expansion of his Preparatory Academy, which will soon add a high school wing.
"We have up to ninth grade now, and I have to add a grade every year in order to see these children through," Agassi said. "The ninth graders were there with us since third grade, so we need to get it done by next year. That's my responsibility."
As for Agassi's tennis career, talk had run rampant about possible retirement plans after the Las Vegas native missed this year's Wimbledon Championships due to recurring back pain.
But three weeks after his latest run at the U.S. Open -- which saw him advance to the finals before falling to world No. 1 Roger Federer in four sets -- Agassi is feeling healthy, and looking ahead to the 2006 tennis season.
"I felt great. I stayed healthy, was able to be out on the court, letting my game fly, and was very pleased with how my body held up over the course of 3-out-of-5 sets for two weeks," Agassi said. "So I'm committed to playing next year, and then I'll assess it from there."
Besides, Agassi explained, staying on tour might help raise more money for children, an added incentive in his quest to stay near the top of the world rankings.
"I think (my retirement) will have an impact (on the charity), but I think we've built enough momentum that we can survive regardless of tennis," he said. "But it has been part of my motivation to continually work hard and try to play. I think there's a very tangible difference, not just in dollars, but also in awareness (with me out there)."