When Agassi was 13, his father sent him to the notoriously tough Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where the country's top young tennis players attended classes and practiced tennis for five hours a day. Future champions Jim Courier and Monica Seles also trained with Bollettieri during their early careers, but Agassi was the flamboyant coach's prize pupil. Agassi spent three years at the academy and won a total of five United States Tennis Association (USTA) national junior titles before turning pro on May 1, 1986, just two days after his 16th birthday.
With his fierce two-handed backhand and volatile backcourt game, Agassi was one of the most highly touted newcomers on the professional tennis scene. He won his first tournament in 1987 and rose from No. 41 to No. 24 in the world rankings. In 1988, he won six tournaments, reached the semifinals of two Grand Slam events, the French Open and the U.S. Open, and rose to No. 3 in the world at the age of 18.
Beyond his powerful tennis, Agassi earned even more publicity for his outlandish personal style long, blond-streaked hair, unshaven face, pierced ear, and garishly colored clothing that stood out against the background of the traditionally conservative sport. His playful on-court style also endeared him to fans, especially his trademark habit of applauding an opponent's winning shot by clapping his hand against his racket. With high-profile (and lucrative) endorsement contracts with Nike (sportswear), Dunlop (tennis rackets), and Canon (cameras), Agassi was probably the most visible tennis player in the world, even without a major title.
Upon retiring from tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the U.S. Open third round, Andre Agassi received an eight minute standing ovation. His closing remarks will be remembered as one of the most inspirational and loving messages to fans ever: "Thanks. The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life."
Agassi's retirement ended a 21-year career that included 60 career singles titles in such events as the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the French Open, and the Australian Open. Agassi also won an Olympic gold medal in 1996. Known for his impressive career, Agassi has used his fame for good. In 1994, Agassi founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada. In 2001, the foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas - a tuition-free K-12 public charter school for at-risk kids. Agassi was honored for his charitable deed with the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 1995. Agassi will always be remembered as an incredible tennis player, who is an equally incredible person.
Andre Agassi is a Winning Keynote Speaker:
The perfect choice for your next special event, Andre Agassi is truly a keynote speaker that makes a difference. Whether he is candidly discussing his illustrious tennis career, sharing insights and experiences from his own life, or explaining the goals and successes of his highly-regarded charitable foundation, Mr. Agassi has a warm, engaging presence that sets him apart from other celebrity speakers.
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