Monday, September 25, 2006

Good night and thank you, Andre


[originally posted in my old blog 09/06/06, at the height of the US Open 2006, doing my own bit to honor the man on the left.]

Admittedly, I am pro-Sampras and as of late, an avowed Roddick and Hingis fan. However, there will always be a portion of my fan-hood solely dedicated for Andre Agassi. He will always be regarded as one of the best ever, worthy of having a stadium named after him, or a tournament even. While it was sad to see him leave Flushing Meadows via a loss, unlike Pistol Pete’s 2002 departure with US Open crown atop his head, it really was, as a Sports Illustrated writer put it, a player’s retirement party which turned into a Grand Slam tournament.

From being an eccentric, flamboyant tennis star to elder sportsman, father and philantropist, Mr Agassi converted tennis into an art and science that humble newbies and veterans alike. He serves as an inspiration on how to use one’s celebrity status to improve the world, one point at a time.

Amid the tears and standing ovations and the adulation of a 23 thousand-strong crowd, he managed to deliver a farewell speech of gratitude that’s indeed one for the books:

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what it 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 have never 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. Thank you."

That’s the kind of ‘love’ tennis players wouldn’t mind receiving, would gladly receive any day of the week and even twice on Sundays.

What a way to go.

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