They say you always view the athletes that you watched growing up as the greatest and most cherished, no matter who comes along when you are an adult. Only time will tell, but perhaps that's why I believe there will never be another Michael Jordan, another Barry Sanders, another Barry Bonds (say what you will about him), another Wayne Gretzky, another Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens, and certainly never another Andre Agassi. All these players on this list, with the exception of Sanders (who mysteriously retired in the middle of his prime, maybe because he was sick of losing) played longer and better than anyone else, pushing their careers further based on their remarkable will to "be the best."
Starting tonight, Andre will play his last US Open, upon which retirement will set in on his aging body. Through the cortisone shots and all the pain I hope he can give us one more historic run like he did just last year!
I still remember when I was 9 and got up every morning for two weeks to watch Wimbledon. That's my first real memory of Andre, and one of the best, as he captured the '92 title. And for the last 14 years I've probably caught more tennis matches of his then everyone else's combined. I didn't think he'd last this long, but I'm glad he did.
Perhaps no man has made a greater impact in tennis, and certainly not for such an extended period. Yes, Pete won more grand slams. Yet, his career was remarkably shorter. However, Andre has the career grand slam and a gold medal, two things Pete will never be able to say. Pete never could win on that pesky clay court. The fact that Andre won his grand slam on grass, hard court, and clay (the ONLY man to do that) will always be a testament of his ability to play anywhere at anytime on any surface. Does this multi-dimensional ability make him greater than Sampras...maybe.
The only regret Andre could have was skipping Wimbledon and the Australian Open (his best surface) all those years in the late 80's and early 90's. Who know's what his major total would be now?
Some of you probably don't care about this writing or about tennis or about Agassi. That's fine. Either way, we must sadly say goodbye to the elder statesmen that everyone in the tennis world has come to love.
There goes another childhood hero.....the last one that was left!
Agassi Inside the Numbers
The last of his era: Agassi, Sampras, Chang, Courier, and Martin
The legend that is Andre
Saying Goodbye: His Final Tournament