Thursday, June 29, 2006
Updated: July 1, 11:29 PM ET
Fitting farewell for Agassi
By Patrick McEnroe
Special to ESPN.com
WIMBLEDON, England -- Initially, Andre Agassi was not embraced by the fans here. When he first came here in 1987, he bad-mouthed Wimbledon and then he didn't play here again until 1991, saying he wasn't into playing on grass and that it wasn't real tennis. He didn't have the respect for what Wimbledon is.
Then he figured out this is the cathedral of tennis, came back to Wimbledon and won the title, unexpectedly, in 1992.
The English are unsure of Americans with personality when they first come here. My brother John was a perfect example of that. They couldn't stand him at first because he was in their face, always arguing; but over time, they loved that. Obviously, Andre is a different kind of personality than my brother, but they love that in-your-face American mentality.
He's become the ultimate spokesman for tennis over the years. He puts everything in great perspective and his perspective about Wimbledon now is right on -- about what this place means to the game and how important it was for his first Grand Slam title to be won here.
The people here really get it. They understand the history of the game and what Agassi means to it -- in addition to what he means to Wimbledon. He means so much to the sport, and that's why now it's become such a real love affair. Now he has become this thoughtful spokesman for the game and people respect him for that.
One of the things I said before his first-round match is that he's become such a great decision maker on the court, that's what turned around his career. Now he is so thoughtful about what he does -- both on and off the court.
He made the decision himself that this was going to be it for him and he's always been very straightforward with the press and the fans. So announcing before the tournament instead of after that this would be his final appearance at Wimbledon was nice, not only for him but also the media and for the fans to know that this is it. Every time Andre has lost in a Grand Slam the last two years, I've been thinking to myself, Is this it?
Now we know this is it for Agassi and we can all appreciate and enjoy it a little more.
And so can he.
|After 14 appearances and a career record of 46-13 at Wimbledon, Andre Agassi said farewell to the All England Club.|
Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. Davis Cup captain, is providing analysis for ESPN.com during Wimbledon.