Agassi picked for tennis Hall of Fame

The sport that has given Andre Agassi everything is giving him

something more.

The baseliner known for his aggressive returns and career Grand

Slam announced Thursday that he will be inducted into the

International Tennis Hall of Fame, telling hundreds of students at

a prep school he runs in Las Vegas that tennis has given him much

more than eight major titles.

”Tennis has given me everything in my life,” Agassi said.

”It’s given me my wife – it’s given me my life’s work by allowing

me the resources to build this school for you.”

Agassi is married to Steffi Graf, who entered the Newport, R.I.,

hall in 2004. He will be inducted on July 9.

The 40-year-old Las Vegas native set a precedent off the court

in terms of fame and endorsements, and won his first major title in

1992 at Wimbledon – where he beat Goran Ivanisevic in five


He went on to win Australian Open titles in 1995, 2000, 2002 and

2003, U.S. Open titles in 1994 and 1999, and the French Open in


In 1995, Agassi spent 30 weeks as the world’s No. 1 player, a

ranking he lost when he fell to rival Pete Sampras in the U.S. Open


Agassi said Thursday Sampras was the best player he faced most

of his career, until he met Roger Federer.

”I just realized that he was going to be the giant of the

game,” Agassi said.

Agassi said his proudest moment on the court was winning the

1999 French Open to complete the career Grand Slam, because it came

after he had fallen below the top 100 in rankings after knowing

what it felt like to be No. 1.

He said he didn’t really believe at the time that he could win

the French Open, and was intimidated after going down two sets to

Russian Andrei Medvedev.

”I was so scared, my feet couldn’t move,” Agassi said.

”Somehow, I put it all behind me.”

The win made him the fifth man in history to complete a career

Grand Slam. It also marked a comeback from a deep slump during

which he was ranked as low as No. 141.

Agassi revealed in his 2009 book ”Open” that he was depressed

in 1997, when he was using crystal meth and failed a drug test. The

result was thrown out, he said, after he lied by saying he took the

drug unwittingly.

Agassi said in the book that when he got to Paris in 1999 the

desire to win the French Open had been haunting him for 10


”I can’t bear the idea of obsessing about it for another 80,”

he said in the book. ”If I don’t win this thing right now, I’ll

never be happy, truly happy, again.”

Agassi told The Associated Press on Thursday that he hoped his

personal struggles and style showed people that tennis can be more

than just a country club sport.

”I think a lot of us are searching for our identity and a lot

of us are searching for ownership of our life,” he said. ”I think

there was a connection that hopefully left people better off.”

Agassi had a career record of 870-274 after turning professional

in 1986, with 60 total titles and $31.2 million earned in singles

and doubles.