Andre Agassi is a former number one player who was dominant in the early 1990s and mid 2000s. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He competed in 15 Grand Slam finals and is an eight time Grand Slam singles champion, having won the Australian Open in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003, the French Open in 1999, Wimbledon in 1992, and the US Open in 1994 and 1999.
Andre was married to actress Brooke Shields from 1997 – 1999. Since October 2001 he has been married to former professional tennis player Steffi Graf. Together they have two children, Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle.
Upon his retirement, the BBC described Andre as “perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” He is a member of the International Hall of Fame, and will be inducted into the US Open Court of Champions at the 2012 US Open on 9 September 2012.
Since his retirement he has been a philanthropist and a tireless advocate for at-risk and underprivileged children. In 1994, he created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The Foundation supports a residential facility for abused and neglected children; provides funding for the Andre Agassi Cottage of Medically Fragile Children, a facility that cares for developmentally delayed and/or handicapped children and children with infectious diseases; and provides funding for the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club. He also developed Team Agassi, a tennis program that nurtures junior and professional tennis players.
In 1995, he received the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for his efforts in helping disadvantaged youth. In 2001, in partnership with the Clark County School district, he opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, and has raised over US$177 million to benefit its mission. In June 2011, he established the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities fund to promote the success and growth of charter schools in urban communities across the USA.
Andre was taken out of school by his father when he was in the ninth grade so he could devote the majority of his time to tennis. It is speculated his efforts to educate and assist children was in some way motivated by the fact that he was not afforded the opportunity to continue his formal education through the traditional school system.
Stephanie “Steffi” Graf is a former number one player with a record 377 total weeks as number one.
That stands as the longest consecutive period at number one for any player, male or female.
She won 22 Grand Slam singles titles; the Australian Open 1988, 1089, 1090, and 1994, the French Open 1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, and 1999, Wimbledon 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, and 1996, and the US Open 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, and 1996. Steffi is a member of the International Hall of Fame.
In December 1999, she was named the greatest female tennis player of the twentieth century by a panel of experts assembled by the associated press. In March 2012, Tennis Channel chose Steffi Graf as the greatest female player in their list of the greatest 100 players.
She is involved in activities with the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education; however, with the possible exception to being a wife and mother, her greatest accomplishment since retirement from tennis in 1999 is that of founder and chairperson of the Steffi Graf “Children for Tomorrow Foundation.
The Foundation serves to help children who have endured a range of violent experiences as a result of war, persecution, fleeing, and exile. Projects include, but are not limited to: Kosovo – a child psychiatric treatment and counseling center with training for local mental health professionals; and Eritrea – a facility providing kindergarten facilities for approximately 1,000 children, and installing psychotherapeutic support and education for health professionals.
Andre and Steffi certainly made their mark as elite tennis players, but their most profound and lasting mark may very well be as advocates for education and medical service to children around the world who otherwise would not have the educational opportunities or medical attention.
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