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October 18, 2017

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Agassi returns to Wimbledon on 20th anniversary of first Grand Slam win


The Associated Press

Retired tennis players and husband-and-wife Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf attend a quarterfinals match between Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and Roger Federer of Switzerland at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England, on July 4, 2012.

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, the king and queen of tennis, returned to Wimbledon this week, taking their places as special guests in the royal box.

The reason for the invitation is the 20th anniversary of Agassi’s first Grand Slam win in 1992, which took place here when he beat Goran Ivanisevic. The same year, Graf, Agassi’s wife, won one of her seven Wimbledon titles.

Back then, Agassi came to London with no expectation of winning.

After winning a quarterfinal match against Boris Becker, he played John McEnroe — then 33 and playing his last Wimbledon — in the semifinals.

“I used to watch John play Bjorn Borg on TV,” Agassi said Wednesday. “I just always remember seeing McEnroe-Borg, McEnroe-Borg on that scoreboard ... It’s almost like they edited my name up on the board.”

His win over Ivanisevic in the final match proved to be the prelude for the coveted possession of all four Grand Slam titles in 1999 after his triumph at the French Open.

“Now I’ve come back to the beginning and it’s quite a moment,” Agassi said. “I have been blessed. It was here where I did a lot of growing up.”

Seated next to the Las Vegas champion this year at Wimbledon was the club chairman and two seats away, real royalty — Prince William and his wife, Kate.

On the tennis court, Mikhail Youzhny, playing Roger Federer in a quarterfinal match, playfully asked Agassi, “Can you tell me what I’m supposed to do out here. Please tell me?”

Agassi simply nodded as a smiling Prince William and Kate looked at him for his reaction.

Graf, meanwhile, said she doesn’t miss tennis. “I gave it my all and have no regrets. Meeting my husband and starting a family a few years later and then starting my charitable foundation meant I was fulfilled in other ways.”

Agassi retired after the 2006 U.S. Open with eight Grand Slam titles.

Borg is a freelance writer.

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