Seen training in Key Biscayne in 1994, Andre Agassi helped put Miami on the international tennis map—and vice versa.
“I didn’t dream of being something: Tennis was my destiny,” Andre Agassi said last year. “I just assumed from a very young age that I was going to be a tennis professional. My father loved tennis and played it as a kid back in Iran. He saw it as the fastest road to the American dream.” In his 20-year career, Agassi might have been the definition of someone who achieved that dream in American sports: He won eight Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal and is one of just seven male tennis greats to achieve a Career Grand Slam (winning an Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon).
Miami, Agassi dominated. At the Sony Open (today called the Miami Open Presented by Itaú, this year taking place March 21–April 3), he won six titles, starting when he was just a long-haired 19-year-old in neon tennis gear. Here he often went head-to-head with his biggest rival, Pete Sampras, losing to the ace in 1994, then beating him the next year. “A great rival is like a mirror,” Agassi told the Harvard Business Review. “You have to look at yourself, acknowledge where you fall short, make adjustments, and nurture the areas where you overachieve. There were times my rivals brought out the best in me; there were times they brought out the worst. They probably helped me win things I never would have otherwise; they also cost me titles. I don’t know how you quantify what it would have been like without a rival like Pete Sampras. I would have won more. But I think I would have been worse without him.”
Agassi played the Sony Open 19 consecutive years, racking up an impressive 61 match wins and just 13 defeats. In fact, he still holds the tournament records for most singles titles, consecutive men’s titles (three), consecutive men’s matches won (20), and men’s singles finals appearances (eight). After collecting his crystal trophy for defeating Spanish tennis ace Carlos Moyá to take the men’s singles title in 2003, becoming the tournament’s oldest winner at the time, the 32-year-old Agassi addressed the Miami crowd. “I love being down here for so many reasons, but probably most important is I love playing here in front of all of you,” he said. “Thanks for all the years; thanks for all the love.” 7300 Crandon Blvd., Miami