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Écrit par Jerome   
18-09-2006

THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

 

June 24, 2006

 

ANDRE AGASSI

             

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, it's been a lot of sacrifices the last few months trying to get myself right to come back here and enjoy this tournament for the last time.   It's something that's meant a lot to me over the years, being here, to compete.   It feels great but it's been a long road this year for me and for a lot of reasons.   It's great to be here.   This Wimbledon will be my last, and the US Open will be my last tournament.

             

              Q.   Is this a decision you've come to in the last few weeks?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, the last few months, it's been a long time thinking for me, as I've had the time, unfortunately, to sort of take stock in a lot of things.   You know, after the US Open last year, I had a lot of reasons to be motivated to shoot for another successful year, but for many reasons, that hasn't been the case and I wanted to do everything I could just to get back here.

              And this is where it all started for me, my dreams.   It really started here.   So I wanted to make sure I made the right decisions to get myself ready for this championship and to hopefully carry me through the summer.

             

              Q.   When did you come to the decision?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   It's been a few months now.   We sort of waited till now to say something, because it's only right that I say it in the place that it all started.

             

              Q.   Is this the sentiment, going in as a contending?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I hope so.   I'm here declaring myself ready to play, and if I can get through a match or two and get my teeth in this event, I hope to cause problems for the big guys.   That's what I intend to do.

             

              Q.   What were the factors that weighed for retirement, that you weighed?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I'm only sort of laying out a timeline, really.   There's still a lot of fight left in me from here through the Open.   You know, there's been a lot of factors, you know, but I've done this for 20-plus years, and I want to be out there feeling like I'm right, physically and mentally and all of the above.   I don't know if I can think of words to sort of apply, but I'm sure you do; that's how I feel about it.

             

              Q.   How did you come to this decision?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Probably the same way you've done a lot of other big decisions in your life.   It's no different than that, the decision to get married, the decision to have children, the decision to change the course of your life are big ones, but hopefully clear ones.

             

              Q.   What about tournaments between here and the US?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yes, I'll play a full summer.

             

              Q.   What is your legacy, Andre?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I don't know.   I look forward to reading about that.   (Laughter).

             

              Q.   Is it a decision that you talked through with your family?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, this decision affects more than just me.   It affects others as well, starting with my family.   So it's been a decision I've discussed with all those that are affected by it, and you know, I've gotten great support for what I want to be my call, my shot.   I'm calling my shot and this is what I'm doing.

             

              Q.   How much of a factor is the mark that you made on the game off the court in recent years, as well as what you've done off the court?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I think there's a lot of factors.   I mean, you know, it's starting with my family, starting with what it takes to be out here and compete on this level.

              You know, I have to make sure I approach this through the sense of what's best for who I care about the most and what is best for me.   There's been a lot of challenges, but it's been 20, 21 years of incredible, incredible memories.   I thank you all for embracing, supporting my life and my dreams.

              As a result of that, I've grown into the person that I am and that I can keep with me the rest of my life.   You know, and I'll continue, I'll spend every day and night trying to -- trying to show my appreciation for these years, and I'll always hope that I make you proud.

             

              Q.   Saying these words, Andre, it's quite emotional here for you in a sense and hopefully won't be over in a few days or maybe even two weeks, but is there sadness in your voice, actually saying these words, after all this time?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Not really, no.   (Laughing.)

Listen, I was sitting right here, 14 years ago, when I said I never could have dreamed, if my career ended today, I have so much more than I ever could have dreamed of in winning those championships, and that was 14 years ago.

             

              Q.   Obviously you won in 1992, that's possibly your greatest memory here and you've been here many times over the years, but do you want to tell us a little bit about some of your fondest memories since that's going to be your last time, maybe not even that win, maybe just here, the best of the 19?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I think really you remember that the most.   You remember the people; you remember, you know, the places and who you're spending your time with and how you're spending your time.

              Here, it's meant a lot of great moments on and off the court.   It's meant a lot of hours waiting for the weather to clear.   But you remember the people the most.

             

              Q.   How do you feel about the third round match with Rafael Nadal, shaking hands with the future and you are saying bye-bye to women done and more, what do you think about the phenomena that the thinkers that you may say bye-bye to the championships, like I said, shaking hands with the future?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I guess that could happen.   But Nadal has just been great for the game, and it's great to see him and Roger have the rivalry they have and the interest that they have created around the world.   It's very competitive.   I would look forward to that challenge for sure.

             

              Q.   Talk about the relationship you've had with the crowds here, because you've always been pretty popular over the years.   Can you talk about how you've been treated here?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I've been embraced so warmly from my early years, and that has meant that has meant the world to me.   Like I said, it has allowed me to grow -- this championship has allowed me to grow into the player and the person that I am today, and I have so many, so many people to thank for that.

             

              Q.   As you say good-bye now, do you feel like you have maximized your abilities?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I have a little bit more work to do this summer.   Hopefully I can still shoot for some big dreams.

              But for me, it's, you know, with the day I won in Paris was the day I knew I would never have another regret the rest of my career.   I think of my feeling on the court changed dramatically after that, you know, was -- it was all about more after that and to have that opportunity to have started that journey here and carry it through the US Open and Australia and Paris was more than I ever could have hoped for.

             

              Q.   Centercourt, have you allowed yourself a little sneak look at it yet?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No.

             

              Q.   Will you before you play, go out and sense the atmosphere?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I intend to do that.   It's too nice to look at it before anyone gets out there.

             

              Q.   And what do you think, that one day there will be a roof over it?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, it's too bad I'm going to miss that.   But, yeah, there's a lot of upsides to that happening.   Traditions I appreciate so much, and this championship has held on to them for a long time.   But at the same time, we're going to have play when there's dodgy weather, and that's a great thing for this sport, as well.

             

              Q.   When you made this decision to quit, did Steffi help you, was that helpful to talk to her about how she went through it and what went through her mind?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No, there's wasn't so much drama to be honest.   I want to be out there; I want to be right physically; I want to be right mentally.

              You know, there's just no other -- it's a clear choice for me.   To come back here was an easy choice.   I sacrificed the clay to make sure that my body was right enough to see this through, and I look forward to, you know, it ending on my home turf back in New York.   Then I embrace the future.

             

              Q.   Do you trust your body now to make it through the summer?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, I've given it a good talking to.   I think it's going to oblige.

             

              Q.   What do you expect to miss the most leaving the sport?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I think the people.   You know, so many of my peers and so many of the friends I've made along the way, a lot of you.

             

              Q.   How about winning it, is there a way that you would -- I know you're not sort of big on final endings, but is there a way you'd like to finish Wimbledon?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Uh, yeah.   (Laughing.)   I could think of a nice ending here at Wimbledon.

              But the longer I stay here, the more enjoyable it is.   I hope I can carry through as long as possible.   If I can get my teeth into this event and find my best game at the right time, I would look forward to that.

             

              Q.   How emotional is it delivering these words, how hard was it emotionally, you said practically it wasn't that difficult a decision, but how about emotionally?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I don't know if it really is sort of sits in with you.   It might take a while to sink in.   The reality of doing something your whole life since you can remember, and that changing sort of that once is, you know, something you probably have to go through to have full appreciation for it.

              But you know, I promised you a long time ago in this sport that I was going to try to do this as long and hard as possible with a realistic hope of being out there and the hope of winning and the hope of being able to beat the person I'm competing against; and when I felt like I couldn't, whether it was my mind or my body that I would let you know.   So emotionally, it probably hasn't sunk in as much yet.

             

              Q.   Will you still play (ph) on clay courts when you retire?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   That's kind.

             

              Q.   You mentioned your mind and your body that can't do it, which is it more?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   You know, some days it's one, some days it's the other.   It's been 21 great years leading into three good -- two good days followed by three difficult ones, you know, and it's two steps forward and one step back.   That gets harder and harder, and it gets more tiring and it gets more difficult to be at your best.

             

              Q.   Wonder if you would reflect a little bit more about how you grew to love this place, Wimbledon, how difficult it was in the beginning, and what was it that sort of turned your mind to fall in love with Wimbledon?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Well, you know, I grew up in the -- sort of in the public eye.   I sort of had to learn some tough lessons in front of a lot of people, and one of which was to respect the greatest tournament in our sport, the greatest championships there is for us.

              To miss it here for the first number of years, to come back, top embraced was -- taught me a lot about, you know, what the human spirit is capable of.   And I started a journey at that stage to do my best to get back to everything it had given to me.   And, you know, it's been a journey.   It's been a growing, learning experience.

             

              Q.   Do you think that US Open match that was a key to the confidence in winning?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   That for sure was a big win, quarterfinals, five-setter, to get through that, obviously gave me the chance to win here.   And felt like I could do it from the back of the court, which was the only choice I had.

             

              Q.   So many images over the years with you, Andre, so many different ones, but do you think the one here in '92, from the moment that you had won the final, perhaps retains a certain magical place in the memory bank?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Of me?

             

              Q.   For you, because of all the buzz --

ANDRE AGASSI:   It's like it was yesterday.   You know, 14 years ago, it's like -- I imagine it's that way when your child goes off to college.   You say, what the heck happened in all these years, you know.   It feels like yesterday for me, as vivid, as alive as ever.

              And all the chances and attempts I took at winning it again and again, you know, I won't forget those, either.   But this is my first one, you know, first one.

             

              Q.   This stretch run of yours through the US Open, how many tournaments will that encompass; do you know?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   I don't know, actually.   I don't know.   As of right now, I hope it to be, you know, four tournaments.   But I also want to keep myself right for what ultimately means the most which is being ready and in a good spot for New York.

             

              Q.   What will you do with your time after the Open?   Have you thought about what comes next?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   No, I haven't really.   I wonder about it with great anticipation.   You know, a couple little ones are going to take up a lot of my time I know.   And I look forward to not putting my family through the sort of ups and downs of trying to get yourself out there in the right state of mind and body and doing some time together and go from there.

             

              Q.   You've seen a lot of guys say good-bye to the game over the years, a lot of your peers in a lot of different ways; you're going to have this three or four months to kind of say good-bye to the fans or safer the end or weighs your rationale for not announcing your retirement at the US Open?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Because I promised you that I would tell you when I knew it.   I concluded this is what I'm going to do, and I feel like I can get my teeth into these events.

              I feel like I still have something to bring out there.   I look forward to try, and, you know, being here is for me.   I'm really, really glad to be here.

             

              Q.   When you made this decision firm in your mind, do you remember exactly what you told Steffi?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, I assume it's an evolution of this has been an ongoing discussion for probably the last 40 years.

              You know, it's been something I've said that I don't know how long, I don't know what, I don't know when, and I darned sure don't know why; but when the time comes that hopefully I will know it and be clear, and it has evolved into that.

             

              Q.   How have you decided, "the US Open is going to be my last tournament"?

              ANDRE AGASSI:   Yeah, it's me wanting to come back here; it's me wanting to go back to New York; and it's me also wanting to compete for these titles and I'm going to give that a go.

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