Former World No. 1 Andre Agassi has eight grand slam titles to his credit, and is considered, to date, a game changer in the world of tennis. The American’s backhand was always his go-to weapon, and was considered among the most technically astute and powerful shots in the game.
One of the first, most successful ‘graduates’ of the tennis academy founded and run by famed tennis coach Nick Bolletieri, Agassi was an aggressive baseliner with a thick, flat groundstroke that his opponents found it difficult to return and combat.
Successful across surfaces, Agassi was most at home on the hard courts of the Australian Open, but with two US Open wins has also been sucessful here.
And it was on this day, the 3rd of September 2006, that Agassi officially hung up his racquet. Having won his eight Grand Slams with a significant amount of struggle along the way, Agassi had decided to call it a day.
At the US Open of 2006, Agassi had progressed to round 3 at the men’s singles at Flushing Meadows, at 36 years old, and lost to German qualifier Benjamin Becker, capping off what had been a spectacular career.
Perhaps tennis' original showman, Andre Agassi saw it all. The man of the distinctive clothes and the even more distinctive hair was a mammoth presence on court in many ways. The highs, the lows, Olympic glory and alongside, the startling revelations of difficulties he had not completely revealed. Reeling from a childhood suffered under an abusive fathe, Agassi would later admit the demons affected him deeply as a person, and perhaps played a part in pushing him towards the drug use that he would later come clean about.
His career had also seen him fall in love with former World No. 1 Steffi Graf, whom he would go on to marry; the two are still happily together, and share a son and a daughter - and their other child, a tennis academy that hopes, perhaps, to find talents of their level.
But on this date ten years ago, it was an Agassi even more emotional than usual. Walking back out on court after his loss to thunderous applause, Agassi turned to every booming, clapping cheering part of the crowd and bowed. It was a more mellow, and still tearful man who came out that day, and the applause went on ceaselessly. The mullet had long since disappeared, a bald head now in its place.
His gracious opponent paid tribute to the ace, saying he deserved all of the cheers the stadium had greeted him with and more, and that he wished him ‘nothing but the best.’
It was Agassi whose impassioned words struck the final shot. “The scoreboard may say I have lost today,” he said, “but it does not say what I have won.” He paid tribute to his fans as he looked back on his career, saying he had had their support for the 21 years he had played tennis, and that he would “take [you], and [your] support with me, for the rest of my life.”
And with a final thank you and eyes brimming with tears, Agassi simply picked up his kit and walked off his court, bidding a poignant goodbye to a long, enduring, entertaining career.
Watch his speech: