Andre Agassi is inducted into the Court of Champions.
© Philip Hall/USTA
By McCarton Ackerman
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Two-time US Open champion Andre Agassi got to the experience the love from Arthur Ashe Stadium one last time.
In a ceremony that included recently retired 2003 US Open singles champion Andy Roddick, Agassi was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions, which celebrates the legacy of the greatest singles champions in the history of the US Open. Over the last ten years, 22 legends of the game have been inducted into the Court of Champions, including Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.
Agassi won the US Open twice, first as an unseeded champion in 1994 and again in 1999, when he prevailed in a five set marathon over Todd Martin. Since retiring from tennis in 2006, the 42-year-old Agassi has been devoting his time to the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada. In 2001, his foundation opened the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K-12 public charter school for at-risk children.
"In all the years that I watched Andre Agassi play, I thought that he's the kind of person who might do more when he's done with his sport than what he's already done on the court," said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager of USTA Player Development, who led the on-court ceremony. "Andre was a champion and a leader to so many of the young Americans coming up when they were first on tour."
One of those Americans was Andy Roddick, who first played Agassi as a 17-year-old in 2000.
"He had such a big impact on my life when I was a kid," Roddick said. "Everyone wanted to be like him. He had an entire generation of kids wearing jean shorts and pink tights. I was lucky to be able to tag along with Andre early in my career, either as a practice partner or playing against him in exhibitions. Watching him go into rooms and shake everyone's hand and look them in the eye, he gave everyone the kind of undivided attention you don't often see from professional athletes."
Agassi was clearly moved by the ceremony when he took to the podium to give his speech. He made it clear that it was the atmosphere of the tournament which made the US Open his favorite Grand Slam.
"This is the only Grand Slam in my career that I've never missed," said Agassi. "The reason, quite honestly, is you...when people ask me if I miss the US Open, I don't hesitate. I miss your sounds. I miss your silence. I miss giving you everything I had and a little bit more. Thank you for giving me everything you've had for 21 years and a little bit more."