Although Andre Agassi was a force to reckon with during the 1990s and early 2000s, having conquered the most prestigious of tournaments, the icon was not entirely happy with his time as a professional tennis player.
The American, who didn't choose to become a professional tennis player but was forced to take it up by his father, once revealed why he felt a disconnect from the game and what made him fall in love with it again. During an interview with the Guardian a few years ago, the eight-time Grand Slam winner stated that he hated tennis despite being good at it and that he harmed himself.
“The real tragedy in my decline was happening during my success," Andre Agassi said, adding, "It was the disconnect I felt from the game. Despite being good at it, I had a deep resentment and even hatred of tennis. That disconnect after getting to No. 1 was even worse because you believe being the best will fill the void. I felt nothing. I declined in different ways. In some cases, it was a lack of work. In others, it was the self-inflicted damage of drugs. I found many ways to hurt myself."
However, the 52-year-old said that he saw underprivileged kids and realized that their lack of choice was far worse than his. Agassi realized the importance of education and hence, started working towards it.
“But I got to a point where I realized that just because I didn’t choose my life doesn’t mean I can’t take ownership of it. That was the epiphany. But epiphanies don’t change your life. It’s what you do with them that changes your life. That’s when I saw children whose lack of choice was far worse than mine," he said.
"I found myself feeling pretty blessed, but compelled to confront the unconscionable reality of these kids, which is that without education, there’s no hope, no choice, no breaking the downward spiral. Once I started to focus on that, tennis became a vehicle for me. I started to appreciate it," he added.
Today, the legend, along with his wife Steffi Graf, has set up schools across the United States to take care of thousands of children.
"I relished getting away from public eye" - Andre Agassi on disliking public attention
Speaking on the Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast in 2018, Andre Agassi revealed that he disliked being in the public eye and that he didn't feel authentic when he had the world's attention on him.
"Some people in the public eye, they might believe what they read. I don't know. For me, I relished getting away from the hat I felt like I had to wear when I was in the public eye. I never really felt authentic when I was out there. I did come to terms with this being a talent of mine," Andre Agassi said.