November 10, 2009 · Print This Article
By: Adam Wexler
Sure, Andre has softened a little. He has even lost all his hair. He may, some would say, speak in a slightly higher voice than he once did. But did he not win four Australian Open titles, one French, one Wimbledon and two U.S Opens? Can you ignore the three Canadian Open titles, one Olympic Gold medal, and that he dated Brooke Shields? I was always an Andre fan. He was consistently worth the money you paid to see him. His flamboyance created a positive vibe around the game, apparently for everyone but himself. With the recent release of Agassi’s autobiography “Open”, and 60 Minute interview with Katie Couric, a new story has emerged. Apparently, he did not love the game as much as we thought he did. Moreover, he lied about taking recreational drugs in 1997.
Agassi was always a grinder out on the court, using his return of serve to cut down larger opponents. Today, he continues to inspire young people to either play the game hard, or enjoy the game in the same sense that we thought his exhibitionism indicated that he did. He has become an accomplished philanthropist and elder statesman for the sport.
Does it matter he was miserable throughout his career? No. That was his burden. Does it matter he lied to the ATP about his drug use? Yes. But who cares. That was twelve years ago, and it is a performance debilitating drug. Andre was a victim of an overbearing parent, the American dream, and of our need to inflate people to beyond human levels of expectation.
We all benefited from the way Andre was always up and down, down and out, and then back on top: tournament directors, sponsors, players, media and fans and more. One reprehensible act, which only inflicts suffering on oneself, is no reason to trash a man’s reputation. Martina Navratilova has obviously never watched baseball.
I suppose her partner is the ball fan. But when she compared Andre to Roger Clemens, I thought, are you crazy or just desperate to talk about anything but another one of your failed marriages. As Perez Hilton states: “…it’s going to be an even messier divorce which promises many dark secrets from Navratilova’s past and present life … such as the intrigue surrounding arch-rival Chris Evert, the incestuous nature of The Women’s Tennis Association, former lovers, improprieties between business associates, and more.” While Perez is no expert, the point is everyone has their issues. Six of one half dozen of the other. We all make mistakes, get over it. It is an unfortunate situation all around, but Agassi is the man.
Love the game.