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Sampras Felt 'Violated' After Theft Of Trophies & Memorabilia

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Sampras© Getty ImagesNone of Sampras' seven Wimbledon trophies was among the items stolen, but his 1994 Australian Open trophy was.

Pete Sampras says that he felt ‘violated’ after learning that thieves had stolen more than 80 of his trophies and priceless memorabilia. Speaking exclusively to ATPWorldTour.com, Sampras added that his decision to go public with news of the theft was a ‘long shot’ attempt to generate a tip from the public that would lead to the memorabilia’s return.

“I’ve done all I can do,” Sampras said. “It will take a little bit of luck and good fortune. It’s probable that it’s been destroyed by now, but it doesn’t hurt to make it public. If the stuff was found it would be fantastic. It’s a long shot but I thought by getting the word out that it may lead to a tip that results in the stuff being recovered.”

Transitioning between houses, Sampras put the majority of his hardware and memorabilia in a West Los Angeles public storage facility about three months ago. But his storage pod and one other were burglarized about three weeks ago. Inside were trophies from 51 of his 64 tournament title runs, 24 runners-up trophies, six year-end No. 1 trophies and other priceless memorabilia.

Since the robbery, Sampras says he’s emotions have run the gamut. “At first I was more angry thinking about some kids stealing my stuff and then I felt violated. Now I’m more disappointed that so much memorabilia is gone and my kids won’t get to see the history of my tennis life. I wanted them to be able to see what their dad did. I don’t know if I was targeted, if they knew it was my stuff, or if it was just random. They had to go through the boxes to see the trophies.”

Sampras, 39, says that he has received strong support from the tennis community since news of the robbery emerged. Tennis Australia may look to replace the 1994 Australian Open trophy - the fourth of Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam crowns – and former player and ATP Board member Justin Gimelstob told Sampras that the ATP is trying to help replace the six year-end World No. 1 trophies he claimed between 1993-98. “I’ve had some players reach out to say they were sorry to hear the news,” Sampras said. Sampras’ 13 other Grand Slam singles trophies were not in the storage facility and are safe. “I don’t know specifically why the ’94 Australian Open trophy was in storage. It was just by chance.”

In addition to the trophies, thieves stole photographs of Sampras with President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton and two letters written by President Bush. “One of the letters from President Bush was one he wrote me after I lost Tim Gullikson,” said Sampras, speaking of his former coach who died of brain cancer in 1996. “That has no value to anyone but me. And it means a lot to me.”

Precious scrapbooks chronicling Sampras’ career, assembled by his brother Gus and former coach Paul Annacone, were among the stolen items, as were newspaper clippings and magazines with Sampras on the cover. A signed piano bench from Elton John and a signed guitar from Carlos Santana were also lost.

Asked if he had a message for the thieves, Sampras said: “I hope they come to their senses and their conscience hits them. There’s no value in these items to them, but there are a lot of memories for me.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that a West Hollywood police spokesman confirmed that the ongoing investigation had been transferred to the downtown commercial crimes unit.

There is no specific police tip line to report leads. But Sampras urged anyone with information to contact their local law enforcement office. Additionally, ATPWorldTour.com readers with information are encouraged to submit tips to content@atpworldtour.com. Please populate the subject field of your email with the words ‘Sampras Trophies’.

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