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Pete Sampras

First Grand Slam

Starting off strong in 1990 Sampras made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open in January and earned his first professional victory in February at the U.S. Pro Indoors in Philadelphia. Knocked out in the first round of his first Wimbledon, he entered the U.S. Open seeded twelfth. Riding on the strength of his over-whelming serve, Sampras walked through the early rounds. He then beat Ivan Lendl in five sets in the quarterfinals, four-time Open winner John McEnroe in the semifinals, and met Andre Agassi in the finals.

Sampras's matchup with Agassi proved to be a contrast in styles. Sampras, who modeled his behavior after an early generation of tennis greats including Laver, was subdued in his behavior, dress, and demeanor, which compared sharply with Agassi's long hair, nontraditional (nonwhite) clothing, and open personality. Agassi, however, could do little to hold up against his opponent's serve, and Sampras won in three sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, becoming the youngest U.S. Open winner in history (19 years, 28 days).

Chronology

1971 Born in Washington, D.C.
1987 National Boys' 18 United States Tennis Association singles finalist
1988 Drops out of school and turns professional
1989 Rank jumps from No. 81 to No. 12
1990 Becomes youngest player to ever win the U.S. Open
1992 Begins working with coach Tim Gullikson
1993 Attains No. 1 ranking
2000 Marries actress Bridgette Wilson
2002 Decides to pursue career through 2003

Born to Win

"When I won the Open in '90, I wasn't ready. Not as a person, and not as a tennis player. I just happened to have two great weeks. That's the only way to explain it. Otherwise, I was a really green, insecure kid.

"The morning after I won, I did all these talk shows. And they made me feel intensely uncomfortable. It's tough for a kid just turning 19 to have all that attention. I was a shy, immature kid, and that came across. Suddenly, everybody always expected me to be in a good mood. But all I really wanted, like most 19-year-olds, was to find a comfort zone as a person, to fit in. And fame wasn't my idea of it. It got overwhelming trying to figure out what people wanted from me. I also saw that what I'd done would affect the rest of my life, and that was scary."

Source: Pete Sampras, in an interview with Peter Bodo. Tennis, 36 (September 2000): 60.

Sampras followed up his 1990 U.S. Open victory by winning the first Grand Slam Cup, an event that features the 16 best finishers in the year's Grand Slam events. With numerous endorsement contracts added to his on-court earnings, Sampras netted approximately $6.5 million in 1990. During 1991, suffering under the pressure of overly high expectations as well as some physical injuries, Sampras skipped the Australian Open and was eliminated in the second round of both Wimbledon and the French Open. In his attempt to defend his U.S. Open title, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

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Famous Sports StarsTennisPete Sampras Biography - Winning Ways, First Years On Tour, First Grand Slam, Chronology, Born To Win - CONTACT INFORMATION