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By Steve Flink

Across the last 21 years of a scintillating career, the inimitable Andre Agassi has left us with a treasure chest of memories. We have witnessed the American icon displaying his signature brand of backcourt tennis from his late teens, through his twenties and deep into his thirties, and over that remarkable span he has often confounded us and seldom bored us. To be sure, he has been one of the game’s most compelling players, a champion who reinvented himself over and over again, a personality who transcended tennis in many ways.

Having watched Agassi play the game hundreds of times since he established himself among the top three in the world 18 years ago, it is no simple task to select one memory that stands out above all of the rest. But, in the end, I always think of his astonishing title run at Wimbledon in 1992, when he captured his first Grand Slam tournament as the No. 12 seed on the lawns of the All England Club. I had seen Agassi get crushed in straight sets by then world No. 1 Jim Courier only weeks before at the French Open in the semifinals, and figured after that penetrating defeat he would come into Wimbledon devoid of confidence and full of uncertainty.

How wrong that assumption was. Agassi - who had skipped Wimbledon from 1988-90 during his defiant years as he thumbed his nose at the shrine of the sport - had returned in 1991 to reach the quarterfinals. Now, a year later, he found his range ably on the grass. In the quarterfinals, he upended three-time champion Boris Becker in a stirring five set collision. One round later, he upended another three time victor named John McEnroe in a straight set demolition. And then, in an absorbing final, he overcame the ever dangerous Goran Ivanisevic in five tumultuous sets.

He would never win Wimbledon again, but at 22 he came through very much against the odds, demonstrating in the process that he was a player for all surfaces, delighting the Wimbledon crowds not only with his talent but his temerity.

- Steve Flink is a senior correspondent for Tennis Week and has been reporting on the game for over 30 years.
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