Andre Kirk Agassi (born April 29, 1970) was born in Las Vegas, to Emmanuel “Mike” Aghassian and Elizabeth “Betty” Agassi (née Dudley).His father, a former Olympic boxer for Iran, is of Assyrian and Armenian descent and changed the family name to Agassi after his migration to the United States. Andre Agassi’s mother, Betty, is a breast cancer survivor. He has three older siblings – Rita, Philip and Tami.
Mike Agassi reportedly banged on the fences with a hammer during Andre’s matches when his son lost a point, screamed at officials and was ejected more than once.
In a passage from the book Open, Agassi details how his father made him play a match for money with football legend Jim Brown, in 1979, when Agassi was just 9 years old. Brown was at a Vegas tennis club complaining to the owner about a money match that was canceled. Agassi’s father stepped in and told Brown that he could play his son and he would put up his house for the wager. Brown countered with a $10,000 bet; but after being warned by the club owner not to take the bet because he would lose and be embarrassed, Brown and Mike Agassi agreed that they’d set the amount after he and Andre played two sets. Brown lost those sets, 3–6, 3–6, declined the 10K wager, and offered to play the third for $500, which he lost 2–6.
At age 13, Andre was sent to Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Florida. He was meant to stay for only 3 months because that was all his father could afford. After thirty minutes of watching Agassi play, Bollettieri called Mike and said: “Take your check back. He’s here for free”, claiming that Agassi had more natural talent than anyone else he had seen. Agassi dropped out of school in the ninth grade.
Andre Agassi is now a retired American professional tennis player and former world no. 1. Generally considered by critics and fellow players to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Agassi has been called the best service returner in the history of the game. Described by the BBC upon his retirement as “perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history”, Agassi’s performances, along with his unorthodox apparel and attitude, have seen him cited as one of the most charismatic players in the history of the game, and credited for helping revive the popularity of tennis during the 1990s.
Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam singles champion who competed in 15 Grand Slam finals, and an Olympic gold medalist. A multi-surface specialist, he is the first of two male players in history to have achieved a singles Career Golden Slam, and one of four male players to have achieved a singles Career Grand Slam in the Open Era (one of seven in history). He was the first male player to win all four Grand Slams on three different surfaces (hard, clay and grass), and is the last American male to win the French Open (1999) and the Australian Open (2003). Agassi also won 17 ATP Masters Series titles, won the 1990 ATP Tour World Championships and was part of a winning Davis Cup team in 1990 and 1992. He is the only male singles player in history to have won all four Grand Slam tournaments, the Olympic gold medal and the ATP Tour World Championships: a distinction dubbed as a “Career Super Slam” by Sports Illustrated.
After suffering from sciatica caused by two bulging discs in his back, a spondylolisthesis (vertebral displacement) and a bone spur that interfered with the nerve, Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada. In 2001, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K-12 public charter school for at-risk children.