Andre Kirk Agassi, (born April 29, 1970, in Las Vegas, Nevada) is a former World No. 1 men's professional tennis player from the United States. He has won eight Grand Slam singles titles, and is one of only five players to have won all four Grand Slam events. He is considered to be among the all-time great tennis players.
Agassi's father, Mike Agassi, a former Olympic boxer, was intent on having a child win all four Grand Slams. He called Agassi's two older siblings "guinea pigs" in the development of his coaching techniques. He honed Agassi's eye-coordination when he was an infant by hanging tennis balls above his crib. He gave Agassi paddles and balloons when he was still in a high chair. When Agassi started playing tennis, his ball collection filled 60 garbage cans with 300 balls per can, and Agassi would hit 3,000-5,000 balls every day. When Andre was 5 years old, he was already practicing with pros such as Jimmy Connors and Roscoe Tanner.
Mike Agassi learned tennis by watching tapes of champions. He modelled each of Andre's shots out of the champion that hit that shot better than anyone else. He watched Boris Becker hit the ball on the rise and Ivan Lendl swing on the volley and he modelled Agassi's game after that. Mike Agassi took a very systematic approach to the physics and psychology of tennis, and still remains active in the sport. More information can be found in Mike Agassi's book, "The Agassi Story."
Agassi turned professional in 1986 at the age of 16, and won his first top-level singles title in 1987 at Itaparica. He won six further tournaments in 1988, and by December that year he had surpassed US$2 million in career prize money after playing in just 43 tournaments – the quickest player in history to do so.
As a young up-and-coming player, Agassi embraced a rebel image. He grew his hair to rock-star length, sported an earring, and wore colorful shirts that pushed tennis' still-strict sartorial boundaries. He boasted of a cheeseburger-heavy diet and endorsed the Canon Rebel camera. "Image is everything" was the ads's tag line, and it became Agassi's as well.
Strong performances on the tour meant that Agassi was quickly tipped as a future Grand Slam champion. But he began the 1990s with a series of near-misses. He reached his first Grand Slam final in 1990 at the French Open, where he lost in four sets to the seasoned veteran player Andrés Gómez. Later that year he lost in the final of the US Open to another up-and-coming teenaged star, Pete Sampras. The rivalry between the two American players was to become the dominant rivalry in tennis over the rest the of the decade. In 1991, Agassi reached his second consecutive French Open final where he faced his former Bollettieri Academy-mate Jim Courier. Courier emerged the victor in a dramatic rain-interrupted five-set final.
Agassi chose not to play at Wimbledon from 1988-90, and publicly stated that he did not wish to play there because of the event's traditionalism, particularly its "predominantly-white" dress code which players at the event are required to conform to. Many observers at the time speculated that Agassi's real motivation was that his strong baseline game would not be suited to Wimbledon's grass court surface. He decided to play there in 1991, leading to weeks of speculation in the media about what he would wear – he eventually emerged for the first round in a completely white outfit. He reached the quarter-finals on that occasion. To the surprise of many, Agassi's Grand Slam breakthrough came at Wimbledon in 1992 when he beat Goran Ivaniševi? in a tight five-set final.
Following wrist surgery in 1993, Agassi came back strongly in 1994 and captured the US Open, beating Michael Stich in the final. He then captured his first Australian Open title in 1995, beating Sampras in a four-set final. He won a career-high seven titles that year and he reached the World No. 1 ranking for the first time that April. He held it for 30 weeks on that occasion through to November. He compiled a career-best 26-match winning streak during the summer hardcourt circuit, which ended when he lost in the US Open final to Sampras. In 1996, Agassi won the men's singles Gold Medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, beating Sergi Bruguera of Spain in straight sets in the final.
1997 was a poor year for Agassi. He won no top-level titles and his ranking sank to World No. 141 in November. His form was perhaps affected by the intense publicity surrounding his high-profile and turbulent relationship and marriage to actress Brooke Shields.
In 1998, Agassi rededicated himself to tennis. He shaved his balding head, began a rigorous conditioning program, and worked his way back up the rankings by playing in Challenger Series tournaments (a circuit for professional players ranked outside the world's top 50). Perhaps most remarkably, the one-time rebel emerged as a gracious and thoughtful athlete, and looked up to by younger players. After winning matches, he took to bowing and blowing a two-handed kisses to spectators on each side of the court, a gesture seen as a rather humble acknowledgment of their support for him and for tennis.
In 1998, Agassi won five titles and lept from No. 122 on the rankings at the start of the year, to No. 6 at the end of it, making it the highest jump into the Top 10 made by any player in tennis. He won five titles in ten finals, and finished runner-up at the Miami Masters.
Agassi entered the history books in 1999 when he beat Andrei Medvedev in a five-set French Open final to become only the fifth male player to have won all four Grand Slam singles titles (a feat last achieved in the 1960s by Roy Emerson). Agassi is the only player in history to win all 4 grand slams since the US and Australian open were altered to hard courts. He followed that up by reaching the Wimbledon final, where he lost to Sampras. He then won the US Open, beating Todd Martin in five sets in the final, and finished the year ranked the World No. 1.
Agassi began 2000 by capturing his second Australian Open title, beating Yevgeny Kafelnikov in a four-set final. He was the first male player to have reached four consecutive Grand Slam finals since Rod Laver achieved the Grand Slam in 1969. 2000 also saw Agassi reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon, where he lost in five sets to Patrick Rafter in a very high quality battle considered by many to be one of the best matches ever played at Wimbledon . Agassi entered the year-end Tennis Masters Cup locked in a tight fight for the World No. 1 spot with Gustavo Kuerten and Marat Safin. Safin needed only three match wins in the tournament to become the year end number one. However, Safin lost to Agassi in the semi-finals; Safin only won two matches. He was out of the running. Agassi then met Kuerten in the final, which would determine not only who would win the title but also who would finish the year as the No. 1 player. In the end it was Kuerten who emereged victorious with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 score. (Agassi won the tour's year-end championship once in 1990, and was runner-up in 1999, 2000 and 2003.)
Agassi opened 2001 by successfully defending his Australian Open title with a straight-sets final win over Arnaud Clement. At Wimbledon, he battled Rafter again in the semi-finals and lost 8-6 in the fifth set. At the US Open he lost in the quarter-finals to Sampras in what is considered to be one of tournament's all-time greatest matches. Sampras won 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in a match with no breaks of serve.
Agassi and Sampras' last duel came in the final of the US Open in 2002. The battle between the two veterans saw Sampras emerge victorious in four sets, and left Sampras with a 20-14 edge in their 34 career meetings. (The match in fact proved to be the last of Sampras' career. He did not play in an event on the professional tour again, and officially announced his retirement in 2003.) Agassi's US Open finish, along with his victories at the Miami Masters, Rome Masters, and Madrid Masters, helped him become the oldest year-end No. 2 at 32 years and 8 months.
In 2003, Agassi won the eighth Grand Slam title of his career at the Australian Open, where he beat Rainer Schüttler in straight sets in the final. On May 11, Agassi won the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston, making him the oldest No. 1 ranked male tennis player in history at 33 years and 13 days. He would hold the position for 13 weeks. At the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston, Agassi made it to the final, losing to Roger Federer, making him the oldest player to ever finish the year in the Top 5 (fourth) since Jimmy Connors finished fourth in 1987 when he was 35.
In 2004, the 34-year-old Agassi won the Tennis Masters Series event at Cincinnati to bring his career total to 59 top-level singles titles. In his run there, he beat players including Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, and Lleyton Hewitt in the final, proving that he could still beat the world's top players. With strong finishes at the Australian Open (SF), Indian Wells Masters (SF), Cincinnati Masters (WON), US Open (QF), Madrid Masters (SF) and Stockholm Open (F), Agassi finished the year ranked eighth, making him the oldest player to finish the year in the Top 10 (at age 34) since Jimmy Connors finished seventh in 1988 when he was 36.
Agassi has also won one doubles title (at Cincinnati in 1993, partnering Petr Korda). He is one of only five male players to have won all the Grand Slams – along with legends Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Fred Perry. He is in fact the first male tennis player to win the four Grand Slams on four different surfaces. The previous players won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open on grass courts and the French Open on clay courts; whereas Agassi won the Australian Open on Rebound Ace, the French Open on clay, Wimbledon on grass, and the US Open on hardcourts. By winning the Olympic Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics, Agassi became the first male tennis player to win the Career Golden Slam. Agassi also helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1990 and 1992. He was named the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year in 1992. Agassi has earned more than US$30 million in prize-money throughout his career, second only to Sampras. In addition to this, he also earns over US$25 million a year through endorsements, the most by any tennis player and fourth in all sports (first place is Tiger Woods at US$70 million a year). In 2005, Agassi left Nike after 17 years and signed an endorsement deal with Adidas. 
Agassi started off 2005 with strong runs, most of which were cut short by Roger Federer. He lost to Federer in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the semifinals at Dubai. He reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells after a dominant victory over Guillermo Coria, but withdrew from his match with Lleyton Hewitt with a swollen big toe. Agassi lost in the semifinals at Miami to Federer in a tight match. Although the claycourt season is the toughest on the body, Agassi played in Rome and reached the semifinals which he lost to Coria in a tough battle. At the 2005 French Open, Agassi lost to Jarkko Nieminem, withdrawing in the fifth set of their first-round match after enduring back pain related to a pinched sciatic nerve. After much media speculation about retirement, the 35-year-old Agassi won in Los Angeles and made the final at Montreal before falling to world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in three long sets that he might have won if a few points had gone differently. His coach Darren Cahill and close friend and personal trainer Gil Reyes worked with Agassi throughout the summer to prepare for the 2005 US Open. Agassi made a spectacular run at the Open, beating Razvan Sabau 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, Ivo Karlovic in the second round 7-6(7-4), 7-6(7-5), 7-6(7-4); Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(7-2); and Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 4-6, 6-2. His quarterfinal match against fellow American James Blake has been called one of the best matches in US Open history. After dropping the first two sets, 3-6, 3-6, Agassi took the next two, 6-3, 6-3. In the fifth set, Blake served for the match at 5-4, but Agassi broke his serve, then won the tiebreak 8-6 to secure the victory at 1:15 a.m. He defeated Robby Ginepri, another rising, talented American with a consistent baseline game, in his third consecutive five-set match to earn a spot in the final against World No. 1 Roger Federer. After losing the first set 6-3, Agassi broke Federer twice to win the second, 6-2. He broke Federer again and at this point looked to be the better player. Agassi had a 30-love lead but with a few costly errors was broken to force a tiebreak, which Federer took, 7-1. Andre ran out of gas which allowed Federer to reel off five straight games. Being down 5-0 in the fourth set, Agassi held to make it 5-1 before Federer closed it out to win the championship. After the match, Agassi thanked New York for the 20 years of memories, hinting at potential retirement. However, Agassi has made clear that he will only retire on his terms, when he feels that he cannot perform at his best on the court. He will likely continue for another year, as he has qualified for the 2005 Masters Cup (which is limited to the eight best players in the world) and is scheduled to play the lead-in tournament to the 2006 Australian Open.
Coming into the 2005 Masters Cup, Agassi is 29-5 on hard courts (with his only losses coming to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal), and is 5-4 on clay (wins over Gasquet, Ljubicic, and Hrbaty, losses to Coria and Lopez).
Agassi employs a baseline style of play, but unlike most baseliners who hit the ball behind the baseline, he typically makes contact with the ball inside the baseline. This is exceptionally difficult even for professionals, but Agassi's ability to hit a clean ball and his short backswing on his groundstrokes allow him to be able to do this. He also uses his short backswing to good advantage when returning the fast-paced serves of today's game - many observers agree that Agassi is the best service returner in the history of professional tennis.
Agassi's confirmation to play at the exhibition event at Kooyong just a week before the Australian Open gave Agassi fans hope that he will play for at least another year.
After his rededication to tennis in 1998, he has focused more on physical conditioning than in the past and is now one of the fittest players on the tour. One of his strategies is to wear down his opponents, continually putting pressure on them by returning the ball early and deep at angles. Agassi will stand in one spot and hit the corners while his opponent is left scrambling from side to side. He will often pass up the winner and hit a slightly less aggressive shot to make his opponent run a little more to retrieve a few more shots. His penchant for running players around point after point has earned him the nickname "The Punisher".
Personal and family life
After a four-year courtship, Agassi married actress Brooke Shields in a lavish ceremony on April 19, 1997. That February, they had filed suit against The National Enquirer claiming it printed "false and fabricated" statements: Brooke was undergoing counseling, binge-eating and taking pills; Agassi "lashed into" Brooke and he and Brooke's mother "tangled like wildcats" when she demanded a prenup; the case was dismissed. Agassi filed for divorce, which was granted on April 9, 1999.
By the time the divorce was final, Agassi was dating the German tennis legend Steffi Graf. With only their mothers as witnesses, they were married at his home on October 22, 2001. Their son, Jaden Gil, was born 6 weeks prematurely on October 26 that year. Their daughter, Jaz Elle, was born on October 3, 2003.
In 1995, when Agassi's former brother-in-law, Pancho Gonzales, died broke and nearly friendless in Las Vegas, it was Andre Agassi who paid for his funeral.
Agassi's ethnicity, beyond being an American citizen, has been a subject of discussion by fans around the world. His father Mike Agassi is of Armenian and Assyrian ethnicity from the state of Iran, and there have been attempts to "claim" Agassi by both the Armenian and Iranian communities in the United States and abroad. Agassi has often seemed somewhat ambivalent, for example, joking after his "All-Armenian" match against Sargis Sargsian at the U.S. Open in 2004, "Well, I'm only half-Armenian" , though he agreed to appear in a PBS documentary about Armenian-Americans . His father has written in his book The Agassi Story about his experience of being an outsider in Muslim Iran, but Andre has also shown interest in the Iranian aspect of his heritage, in February 2005 expressing a desire to visit Iran, which holds "a special place" in his heart.