espnW: Andre Agassi
On this day in 1998, the final episode of the iconic TV sitcom "Seinfeld" aired on NBC after nine side-splitting seasons. In honor of the classic show's departure, here are five memorable exits in sports.
1. Lou Gehrig: After 17 legendary seasons with the New York Yankees, "The Iron Horse" was forced to retire after being diagnosed with a disease since named after him. On July 4, 1939, he addressed the Yankee Stadium crowd and called himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" in a speech for the ages.
2. Pat Summitt: Less than a year after disclosing her diagnosis of early onset dementia, the winningest college basketball coach in history announced she would be stepping down as head coach at Tennessee. She passed the torch -- and whistle -- to her longtime friend and assistant Holly Warlick during her retirement press conference on April 19, 2012.
3. Andre Agassi: After announcing his retirement plans during the summer of 2006, the eight-time Grand Slam champion entered the U.S. Open knowing it would be his last tournament. Despite suffering from chronic injuries, Agassi beat his first two opponents and advanced to the third round, where he lost to Benjamin Becker 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5. Agassi received a long standing ovation from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He tearfully spoke to the crowd and gave an emotional thank you to the fans after the match.
4. Mike Schmidt: The Philadelphia Phillies third baseman struggled to speak through his tears as he announced his imminent retirement during the 1989 season. Schmidt, who played all 18 of his major league seasons in Philadelphia, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.
5. Brett Favre: Shortly after the Green Bay Packers lost in overtime of the NFC championship game, Favre said he "had nothing left to give" in an emotional retirement announcement in March of 2008. A month later he expressed he was having second thoughts and he famously unretired to join the New York Jets in August. After another near-retirement, Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings and officially retired after the 2010 season. Not that anyone believed him.
For a while Sunday, it felt like the early 1990s again at Arthur Ashe Stadium as images of a young Andre Agassi filled the big screen. The flowing hair, neon clothing and signature denim shorts brought back fond memories for Agassi and the crowd present to see him be inducted into the Court of Champions prior to the women’s singles final.
“Bold, brash and bigger than life,” is what the plaque bearing his photo outside Arthur Ashe Stadium says. “The ultimate showman at the ultimate show.”
Agassi joins John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Billie Jean King and other greats in the Court of Champions that greets fans entering through the South Gate of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
In his 20-year career, Agassi won eight major titles, two at the U.S. Open, and an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. The U.S. Open held a special place in his heart as the only Slam event he never missed.
During his acceptance speech, Agassi waltzed down memory lane, describing the roar of the applause and the love at the U.S. Open.
“It’s like a jet engine and a giant heartbeat,” Agassi said. He also described the moments of silence he received from New Yorkers at Arthur Ashe as a sign of deep respect filled with high expectations, because there is nothing more deafening than a stone-cold-silent New Yorker.
"When somebody asks me if I miss the U.S. Open,” he said, "I don't hesitate. I miss your sound. I miss your silence. I miss giving you everything I had and a little bit more."
Silence was the last thing to be found at Ashe Stadium as the crowd gave a standing ovation for the man who once lit up the court with his fashion and style of play.