© Getty Images
- Age: 43 (12.08.1971)
- Birthplace: Washington, D.C., USA
- Residence: Los Angeles, California, USA
- Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
- Weight: 170 lbs (77 kg)
- Plays: Right-handed
- Turned Pro: 1988
- Coach: Paul Annacone
- Website: http://www.petesampras.com
As of 25.05.2015
Singles & Doubles combined
Singles & Doubles combined
It just happened. He couldn’t explain it or understand it. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just a new kid. Everything I did worked,” Pete Sampras would say later, discussing his U.S. Open triumph of 1990 that anointed him as the youngest of all U.S. champions at 19 years, one month.
He knew what he was doing the rest of the way as “Silky” Sampras, smoothly, uniquely, gliding along a path of greatness in an outwardly unconcerned and effortless manner while mounting a planned and concerted assault on the citadels of the past. Pete knows his tennis history, and was consciously pursuing the man on the spire, Aussie Roy Emerson, who seized 12 major singles championships between 1961 and 1967, the men’s record (six Australian, two each French, Wimbledon, U.S.).
Pete razed Emerson’s 33-year-old citadel by beating another Queensland country boy, Patrick Rafter, 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2, for a thirteenth major at Wimbledon in 2000. New century, new record. But in the shadows of dusk that day he also caught up with an English ghost, Willie Renshaw. Willie had won seven Wimbledons between 1881 and 1889, and this was the seventh for Pete. Emerson sent his congratulations after being eclipsed, laughing that he hadn’t even known of holding a record until Sampras began stalking him, and the press picked up on it.
Pete raised his own stronghold higher at 14 by winning the U.S. Open of 2002, even though he was lurching through his worst year, and a spell dryer than the Sahara—33 tournaments without a title. At Wimbledon, he was stung in the second round in what ultimately was his final match at the All England Club, losing to a Swiss stranger, No. 145 George Bastl. At Paris, No. 69 Andrea Gaudenzi booted him from the opening round. He even lost on grass, with a two-set lead, in a Davis Cup match at Houston to turf-wary Spaniard Alex Corretja, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 6-4. Never had he been so down and disregarded.
Yet Pete, ranked and seeded No. 17, was inspired at Flushing Meadow, the scene of his 1989 Open breakthrough. Then he’d knocked off defending champion Mats Wilander, 5-7, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, in the second round. But after suffering final round defeats by 20-year-olds Marat Safin in 2000, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, and Lleyton Hewitt, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-1, in 2001, Pete was somehow ready to claim his fifth U.S. title, defeating lifetime rival Andre Agassi in the 2002 finale, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
It had been a while since Pete had ruled the United States. Squelching the perpetual motion of Michael Chang in the all-Californian Open final of 1996, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), marked his last victory in Flushing, his fourth title. Although he had an off Wimbledon in 1996, losing in the quarters, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, to the new champ Richard Krajicek. Pete was, after all, shooting for his fourth in a row, and had won 25 straight where only Borg (41) and Laver (31) had longer streaks. He would still close out his ninth professional campaign as No. 1 for a fourth consecutive year.
At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, with a full head of dark hair, the lanky Greek-blooded high school drop-out from Palos Verdes, Calif., was handling his affluence and standing modestly and well. “It’s not a good year unless I win two majors. They’re what count,” he said. But he was happy to salvage 1996 with one, considering the year’s heartaches with the death of his coach and best friend, Tim Gullikson, of a brain tumor, which had been discovered at the Australian Open of 1995. Though unprepared for the French, which followed Gullikson’s funeral, he made his finest showing in Paris, the one major that has befuddled him, falling in the semis to the champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, 6-2. That was after exciting, draining five-set wins over ex-champs Sergi Bruguera and Jim Courier, as well as Todd Martin.
Born Aug. 1, 1971, in Washington, D.C., the right- hander grew up in Southern California. His older sister, Stella Sampras, played professionally and went on to coach the women’s varsity of her alma mater, UCLA. Brother Gus is a player agent. Pete’s tennis style was altered at 14 by a pediatrician (and moonlighting tennis pedagogue), Dr. Pete Fisher. Fisher, feeling that Pete’s two-handed backhand and baselining were childish, preached volleying, a free-flowing traditional backhand and reverence for the greats of yesteryear in performance and behavior, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. As Pete grew, so did his vaunted serve, and everything fell into place. Later it was Gulllkson, Pete said, “who helped me to grow up, compete, focus, learn to play on grass. I owe so much to him.”
Rookie pro Pete was out of his first U.S. Open, 1988, almost before it opened, beaten by Jaime Yzaga of Peru in the first round. But he got a footnote in 1989, deposing the champ, Wilander, reaching the fourth round. The next year he was golden, if “unconscious.” A long shot, seeded No. 12 and ranked No. 81 when the season commenced, he went through in a spray of aces on a loss of four sets. He showed his mettle by taking out ex-champs back-to-back—Lendl, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the quarter-finals, and McEnroe, 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the semifinals. Pete demonstrated authenticity and the fact that he was unstoppable, by coolly sealing off canny No. 3-seeded Lendl’s counterattack in the quarters, embellishing with 26 aces. “He just kicked my ass,” was Andre Agassi’s terse summation of unbreakable Pete’s 106-minute final round caper, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Up jumped the name of Oliver Campbell, dead man dispossessed. He had held the record as youngest champ, 19 years, six months. Pete out-greened him by five months.
A few months later, Pete made a bigger financial splash, collecting a record $2 million for winning the inaugural Grand Slam Cup in Munich over Brad Gilbert 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Uncomfortable with all the attention brought by these deeds, and rocketing to No. 5 in the rankings, he actually seemed relieved to have the U.S. title lifted from him in the 1991 quarters by Courier, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5). But he matured, accepted the responsibilities and challenges of life at the top, and became a solid world No. 1 in 1993, repelling all-would-be usurpers for six straight years, copping Jimmy Connors’s Open era record of five in a row (1974-78). Nothing as imposing had been seen for almost three quarters of a century, since Big Bill Tilden’s No. 1 parade of six years (1920-25) in the pre-computer days. Though Agassi took it away momentarily by beating Pete in the 1995 Australian Open, 4-6, 6-1 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, Sampras struck back in the U.S. final eight months later, dispiriting Andre, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. Their hot rivalry stood at 20-14 for Pete at his 2002 swan song. Other than the six No. 1’s, Pete’s 12-year world Top 10 residency: No. 5 in 1990; No. 6 in 1991; No. 3 in 1992, 99-2000; No. 10 in 2001; and the closing entry, No. 13 in 2002.
Davis Cup was not altogether happy for Pete, especially his jitters-wracked debut in the 1991 final. A raucous, nationalistic French crowd in Lyon unnerved him, and Henri Leconte and Guy Forget pummeled him to defeats, Guy in the clincher, 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, that gave the French an unexpected Cup, 3-1. He played a winning right-court doubles part (alongside McEnroe) in the 3-1 Cup victory over Switzerland’s Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset in 1992, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (7-9), 7-5, 6-1, 6-2.
In the 1995 final at Moscow, on a clay court spread especially to spread-eagle him within Olympic Stadium, Pete responded by taking charge in the 3-2 victory over Russia in as glorious a weekend triple as performed by any American abroad. First was a five set out-grinding of dirt maven Andrei Chesnokov, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, immediately after which Pete keeled over, exhausted, cramping. Then came a nifty duet with Todd Martin in the 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, go-ahead flooring of Andrei Olhovskiy and Kafelnikov. Finally, a definitive curtain-lowering riddling of Kafelnikov, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), in a shower of aces (16) and forehand winners (19). All his extraordinary qualities were on display: the grit and stubbornness, fluid groundies, thundering serves, casual yet deadly volleys and racing forehands.
It all appeared so relaxed and glissando, although his head still slumped in adverse moments. Beneath the calm façade lurked certain physical and emotional frailties, a hereditary blood problem called thalyssemia. This was evident when he collapsed the instant the Chesnokov ordeal ended. And the memorable 1996 afternoon at Flushing where he lost his lunch but not his title in a 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) quarter-final win over Alex Corretja. Ill and vomiting in the conclusive fifth set tie-breaker, Pete wormed his way out of a match point with a lunging volley. Staggering, he hooked a 90 mph second serve ace—“I don’t know where it came from ... I was out of it”—to give himself match point at 8-7. Whereupon, “not wanting to hit another ball,” he didn’t have to. Corretja lost the only way Pete could win—a double fault. Kismet.
“But that’s sweet Pete,” says longtime friend and rival, Courier. “Just when you think he’s dying, that’s when he kills you.” What really killed him was an outlook-changing loss of the 1992 U.S. Open final to Stefan Edberg, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) , 6-2. “For the first time it really hurt to lose, really bothered me. I hadn’t been really determined until then,” he said. “But I realized that I wasn’t going to settle for one major. I had to have more.” And so he did.
At the close of 2002, he had won 64 of 265 singles tournaments, losing 24 finals. He’d also won two doubles titles. In the majors, he won 14 of 18 finals. His singles W-L record stands at an impressive 762-222 (.776), 203-39 in the majors (.839). Winning more prize money than anyone else, $43,280,489. His most productive season was 1994, winning 10 of 18 singles tournaments on 77-12. In the 1992 Olympics, he was beaten in the third round by Chesnokov.
Regardless of how long the game is played he will forever be the Big Man of the Big W.
MAJOR TITLES (14) — Australian singles, 1994, 1997; Wimbledon singles, 1993, 1994, 1995; 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000; U.S. singles, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002.
DAVIS CUP — 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002; 15-8 singles, 4-1 doubles.
SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS — Australian (45-9), French (24-13), Wimbledon (63-7), U.S. (71-9 )
- Bio Courtesy Bud Collins
Began playing tennis at age seven...Changed from a two-handed to one-handed backhand in 1987...Grew up idolizing Rod Laver, and often watched tapes of him...Enjoys playing golf to nine handicap (won celebrity Long Drive contest, 332 yards, in Lake Tahoe, Nev., in July 1996), Formula I racing and an avid fan of Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)...Owns Lakers' season tickets...Played in Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in LaQuinta, Calif. in January 1999 and partnered with Paul Azinger, Fred Couples, David Duval and Arnold Palmer in separate rounds...Birdied same hole as Palmer on 15th hole of Palmer PGA West course...
Parents, Georgia and Sam, a retired civilian engineer for Dept. of Defense, do not watch Sampras play often because it makes them nervous but they attended their son's Grand Slam record-breaking title performance at Wimbledon in 2000...Made appearance on Wheaties cereal box in August 2000 after his Grand Slam record...Older sister Stella is head coach at UCLA...Younger sister Marion is a teacher in Los Angeles...Older brother, Gus, is the former tournament director at Scottsdale and is now his manager...
Named ATP Player of the Year six straight years (1993-98) and Jim Thorpe Tennis Player of Year in 1993...Served as chairman of the ATP Charities program in 1992...A member of the American Cancer Society's Public Awareness Council and in 1997 started Aces for Charity, in which he donated $100 for each ace he served...In three years, raised close to $1 million through personal contributions and a number of sponsors, with a percentage going to the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation, of which he is a board member...Also benefiting is the Vitas Gerulaitis Youth Foundation and Kids' Stuff Foundation, founded by Andrea Jaeger, and Avon Breast Center and Revlon Breast Cancer Research Center...Donated his time for a tennis lession around 2002 US Open on Arthur Ashe Stadium court that was auctioned off with proceeds benefiting Gullikson Foundation...
In 1997, named U.S. Olympic Committee "Sportsman of the Year"; first tennis player to receive award...To commemorate 25th anniversary of ATP in 1997, a panel of 100 current and past players, journalists and tournament directors voted for the Top 25 players of past 25 years and Sampras was selected No. 1...Voted 48th athlete of Top 50 Greatest North American Athletes of ESPN's Sports Century (also youngest on list)...In March 2000, held the inaugural Pete Sampras Classic, a celebrity golf event that raised $100,000 to benefit the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation...A British audience of 12.5 million viewers watched 2000 Wimbledon final on BBC, highest figures since 1992...Named GQ magazine's Individual Athlete Award for Man of the Year in 2000...Wife, Bridgette Wilson (married Sept. 30, 2000) is an actress; Son, Christian Charles (born Nov. 21, 2002)...Made U.S. Davis Cup debut in 1991 and has a 19-9 career record (15-8 in singles) in 16 ties and on winning teams in 1992 and '95...Works with fitness trainer Brett Stephens.
1988 -- Reached first ATP SF in Schenectady, losing to eventual champion Mayotte, but avenged loss in Detroit later in year for his first career Top 10 win...
1989 -- In doubles, teamed with Courier to win Rome, reach final at Forest Hills and qualify for year-end doubles championship...
1990 -- Won first ATP title in Philadelphia (d. Gomez) and captured first grass court title in Manchester (d. Bloom)...At US Open, upset Lendl, J. McEnroe and Agassi in last three rounds to become youngest men's champion at 19 years, 28 days...
1991 -- Won titles in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Lyon and ATP Tour World Championship in Frankfurt...
1992 -- Won first ATP clay court title in Kitzbuehel (d. Mancini)...
1993 -- Became 11th player to rank No. 1 in singles on April 12...Won eight titles, including first Wimbledon (d. Courier) and second US Open (d. Pioline)...
1994 -- Won career-high 10 titles in 11 finals, including first Australian Open (d. T. Martin), second Wimbledon (d. Ivanisevic) and second ATP Tour World Championship in Frankfurt (d. Becker)...Also won TMS Indian Wells (d. Korda), TMS Miami (d. Agassi) and TMS Roma (d. Becker)...First player to hold No. 1 every week during year since Lendl in 1987 and first to win 10 titles since Lendl in 1989...
1995 -- Won five titles, including his third consecutive Wimbledon (d. Becker) and third US Open (d. Agassi)... Reached four other finals, including the Australian Open and TMS events in Miami and Montreal, losing to Agassi each time...Defeated Agassi in title matches in Indian Wells and the US Open...Helped lead U.S. to Davis Cup title by accounting for all three points in 3-2 victory over Russia in Moscow...Compiled a 7-0 record (6-0 in singles) in Cup play...Held No. 1 for 82 consecutive weeks (from Sept. 13, 1993, to April 3, 1995) before Agassi took over April 10 and held it for 30 weeks until Nov. 5...Regained top spot Nov. 6 after winning Paris-indoor (d. Becker)...First player to surpass $5 million in a season...
1996 -- Won titles in San Jose (d. Agassi), Memphis (d. T. Martin), Hong Kong (d. Chang) and Tokyo (d. Reneberg)...At Roland Garros, pulled out five-set victories over Bruguera (2nd RD), Martin (3rd RD) and Courier (QF) before losing in SF to Kafelnikov...Had his 25-match winning streak at Wimbledon snapped by Krajicek in QF...On hard courts, won Indianapolis (d. Ivanisevic) and his fourth US Open title (d. Chang)...Won his seventh title of year in Basel (d. Dreekmann) and capped year by beating Becker in a five-set , four-hour battle in ATP Tour World Championship final...Led tour with 46-4 record on hard courts...
1 997 -- Joined Connors (1974-78) as only players to finish No. 1 five consecutive years...Ranked No. 1 every week throughout year for second time (1994)...Won eight titles in as many finals, including Grand Slam crowns at Australian Open (d. Moya) and Wimbledon (d. Pioline)...Began season with 17-0 record and three straight titles: Australian Open, San Jose (d. Rusedski) and Philadelphia (d. Rafter)...Won his fourth Wimbledon title in five years and held serve 116 of 118 games...Won TMS Cincinnati (d. Muster)...Helped U.S. to Davis Cup final vs. Sweden only to retire in third set of second match with a left calf muscle strain vs. Larsson...Captured 50th career title at Grand Slam Cup in Munich (d. Rafter) and won his fourth ATP Tour World Championship (d. Kafelnikov)... Earned a career-high $6,498,311...
1998 -- Became first player in ATP Rankings history to finish No. 1 for six consecutive years...Won four titles on as many surfaces for second time in his career (1994) and won his fifth Wimbledon crown (d. Ivanisevic) in five sets...Fired 117 aces in fortnight (most in his career)...Also won three other titles ...
1999 -- Captured all five finals he appeared in during season, including his Grand Slam-tying 12th title at Wimbledon title (d. Agassi)...Appeared in 14 tournaments and played 48 matches, his fewest since 1989, due to injuries...In April, withdrew from two clay court events due to lower back spasms...In August, retired in a match with a right hip flexor strain and one day prior to start of US Open, suffered a herniated disc injury while practicing...Missed two months due to back injury...In first tournament in San Jose, advanced to SF but withdrew due to left leg injury...In June, won first of four straight titles at Queen's Club in London (d. Henman) and followed with his record-breaking sixth Wimbledon title in seven years...Dropped only two sets (broken five times) en route to title and fired 108 aces during fortnight...Continued success during hard court circuit by defeating Agassi in Los Angeles final...In next tournament in Cincinnati, did not lose a set while beating Krajicek (QF), Agassi (SF) and Rafter (F) in last three rounds...On Aug. 20, retired due to hip flexor strain in QF in Indianapolis (vs. Spadea), snapping a 24-match winning streak, second-longest of his career...Ranked No. 1 going into US. Open before back injury in practice forced his withdrawal and drop to No. 3...Missed two months before returning Nov. 2 in Paris-indoor...Saved three match pts. in second round match vs. Clavet but withdrew in next match due to back spasms...Returned for season-ending championship in Hannover and defeated rival Agassi in final (after losing to him in round robin play)...Went 4-1 against Agassi during year (3-0 in finals)...Joined Ivan Lendl as only five-time winner of year-end tournament...Compiled 23-5 record on hard, 12-0 on grass and 4-3 on clay and 17-6 in tie-breaks...
2000 -- The game's all-time leader with 13 Grand Slam singles titles finished in Top 3 for ninth consecutive year, trailing only Jimmy Connors (12) and Ivan Lendl (10) with longer streaks of Top 3 finishes...Only player to win at least one title since 1990û2000 and only player to finish in Top 10 every year during that span...Stands No. 4 in Open Era (since 1968) in titles won...By winning his seventh Wimbledon title he joined Bjorn Borg as only players to win at least one Grand Slam title for eight consecutive years...William Renshaw is only other man to win seven Wimbledon titles, back in 19th century...Played in his fewest tournaments (13) since his rookie year in 1988 and won two titles and was a finalist in two others...Opened year with a SF at Australian Open, losing to rival Agassi in an epic five-set battle...In that match on Jan. 27, he sustained a torn major flexor muscle in his right hip in fourth game of match and he missed 1st RD Davis Cup tie in Zimbabwe...Reached QF at TMS Indian Wells and won first title in Miami (d. Kuerten in final)...Played in Cup tie vs. Czech Republic in his hometown of Los Angeles and lost to Novak in opener but came back in reverse singles to clinch a 3-2 victory by defeating Dosedel in straight sets...On grass, reached final at Queen's in London (l. to Hewitt) and then biggest moment of his career came at All England Club where he won his seventh Wimbledon title in eight years (53-1 record during stretch)...But his record 13th title didn't come easy as he struggled with tendinitis of left shin and foot from his 2nd RD match on...Practiced only once on an off-day since 2nd RD due to injury...In title match against Rafter, lost opening set and trailed 1-4 in 2nd set tie-break before rallying to win breaker, next two sets and break Aussie Roy Emerson's record, which he held since 1967...Played all seven matches on Centre Court...Fired 118 aces and lost serve five times during tournament...Came into US Open and only lost one set in six matches en route to final before falling to Russian star Safin in straight sets...It was his first straight-sets loss in a Grand Slam final...Qualifed for Tennis Masters Cup in Lisbon and lost opening round robin match to Hewitt 7-5 6-0 for first bagel set lost since Roland Garros SF in 1996 to Kafelnikov (a span of 280 matches)...Lost in SF to eventual champion Kuerten...Finished year with 700 career match victories, most among active players...Led ATP in service games won (91 percent) and break points saved (73 percent) and finished No. 5 in aces (666)...
2001 -- Finished in Top 10 for 12th consecutive year, third-longest behind Connors (16) and Lendl (13)...The winningest active player failed to win an ATP title and at least 40 matches for first time since 1989, a Grand Slam crown for first time since 1992 and he finished outside Top 5 for first time since 1991...Reached four finals, including his seventh US Open title match (l. to Hewitt)...Also finalist at TMS Indian Wells, Los Angeles (l. to Agassi in both) and Long Island (l. to Haas)..Had his 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon snapped by Swiss teenager Roger Federer in five sets in 4th RD...His previous loss and only other Centre Court defeat was to Krajicek in QF in 1996...Had a 39-2 career record on Centre Court and 56-2 overall since 1993...At US Open, became first player to beat three former US Open champions en route to final as he beat Rafter (4th RD), rival Agassi in four tie-breaks (without a service break) in one of tournament's greatest matches of all-time and Safin (SF) in a repeat of 2000 final...Going into championship, had streak of 87 consecutive service games won from 2nd RD on but Hewitt broke in first service game and prevailed 76 61 61...Finished No. 6 in aces (627) and No. 7 in service games won (86 percent)...Parted ways in December with coach Paul Annacone and hired Tom Gullikson to begin 2002 season...
2002 -- The all-time leader in Grand Slam singles titles broke over a two-year title drought by capturing his 14th career Grand Slam crown at US Open (14-4 in Slam finals)...Has won at least one Grand Slam title in nine of last 10 years (except 2001)...Fired 144 aces during tournament, including 33 in final, to capture his fifth US Open (in eight finals) and win for first time since 2000 Wimbledon...It was fourth time he defeated Agassi in a Grand Slam final and he improved to 20-14 lifetime against his long-time rival...In breaking 33 tournament drought, at 31 he became oldest to win Open since Ken Rosewall (35) in 1970 and oldest Grand Slam singles winner since Arthur Ashe (31 years, 11 mons.) won Wimbledon in 1975...He joined Rosewall as only players to win Grand Slam titles as a teenager, in 20s and 30s...Did not play rest of season...Finished out of Top 10 (No. 13) and with fewest match victories (27) for first time since 1989...His run of 12 consecutive Top 10 finishes trail only Jimmy Connors' 16 and Ivan Lendl's 13...Prior to US Open, his best results during year came in Houston in April when he reached final (d. Agassi in SF, l. to Roddick) and SF at TMS Indian Wells (l. to Hewitt) in March...Opened season with 4th RD showing at Australian Open (l. to Safin) and lost early at Roland Garros (1st RD to Gaudenzi) and Wimbledon (2nd RD to Bastl in five sets)...It was his earliest exit at All England Club since 1991...Played on U.S. Davis Cup team and went 1-1 in two ties...Worked with three coaches - Tom Gullikson (five weeks), Jose Higueras (from late February through Wimbledon) and back with Paul Annacone (during US Open)...Had a 20-8 record on hard, 5-6 on clay and 2-3 on grass...Despite playing his fewest matches since 1989, finished No. 5 in aces (607, averaging 14.5 per match) and service games won (87 percent)...Went 5-1 vs. left-handers (83-8 against lefties since '94).