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Écrit par Jerome   
18-09-2006
By Georges Homsi

The hype around Andre Agassi throughout his 20-year career has always been wild. He irritated some, but most loved his antics, and his strive to be different. One thing is sure, no-one was ever indifferent.

From the media standpoint, having a chance to interview Agassi was anything but easy ever since his first years on the tour. For a simple reason: the demand was much greater than the reasonable time he could possibly give. For that reason, I was fortunate to have many chances to sit down with him and discuss different topics throughout the years. Being a traveling tennis journalist has its advantages. For a couple of years, I also helped organize Andre’s interviews, while I worked for the ATP communications department.

I enjoyed listening to his pertinent and articulate thoughts since the first time I interviewed him, in Charleston in 1988, just a few days after he turned 18. But at first I wasn’t what you would call a fan of the Agassi character. Maybe because I couldn’t easily relate to his desire to be different, his will to be noticed. With age, I have completely changed my perspective of Andre, mainly because he matured immensely, and I discovered so many sides of him that I couldn’t see. The philanthropist side of him burst to the open in a spectacular way, but it didn’t come from nowhere. It was already there, just overshadowed by his desire to offer his fans the “Agassi Show."

One day I was due to interview him in Stuttgart, Germany. Once I was told Andre was ready, I was comfortable I was. The recorder was in my pocket, and the questions written down. But once we sat down, I realized the recorder had been inadvertently been left on, and the battery was dead flat. I was extremely embarrassed and he saw it. “Don’t worry, go find batteries, I’ll wait for you,” he said with a kind smile.

Luckily, I found a colleague who was able to help me out, and when I came back 5 minutes later, he didn’t show the least sign of irritation and we were able to carry the interview. Agassi has been an immense tennis champion. But I admire tons more the human side of him, and his determination to do anything within his power to help and make a difference. He said once that the one principle he was keenest to teach his kids was: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.” That speaks tons for the kind of person he is.

- Georges Homsi is a freelance French tennis journalist of Lebanese origins
 
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