Pete Sampras (born August 12, 1971), is a retired American professional tennis player. He is widely considered to be among the greatest ever to play the game.
Pete Sampras was born on August 12th, 1971 in Washington, D.C, the third son of Greek immigrants, Sam and Georgia Sampras.
From an early age, Pete showed signs of outstanding athletic ability. The young Pete discovered a tennis racquet in the basement and spent hours hitting balls against the wall.
In 1978, the Sampras family moved to Palos Verdes, California, and the warmer climate there allowed 7 year old Pete to play more tennis.
The Sampras family joined the Peninsula Racquet Club, where they played a great deal of tennis together. It was here that Pete's ability became apparent.
At the age of 11 he had already learned the solid serve and volley tactic that has become the hallmark of his game.
Sampras's pro career began in 1988 at the age of 16. His first victory in a Grand Slam tournament came at the US Open in 1990, when he defeated Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe among others to win. At only 19 years 28 days, Pete Sampras was the youngest tennis player ever to win the U.S. Open Men's title. The rivalry between the Andre and Pete lasted throughout the 1990s. Sampras dominated Wimbledon for much of the 1990s, taking the title there in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. In 1991 Pete won the IBM World Championship and 1n 1992 played in the team that won the Davis cup. Pete set a new ATP Tour record in 1993 when he became the first player to serve over 1000 aces in a season.
Whereas the grass courts of Wimbledon played to Sampras's strengths, his only real weakness was on clay, where the slow surface tended to negate his natural attacking serve-and-volley game, and he never progressed beyond the semi-final stage at the French Open. His businesslike attitude during play and cautious handling of the press led critics to bemoan his lack of charisma, but his natural talent and work ethic meant that Sampras was always able to let his results speak for themselves.
He was known for his good all-round game and a strong competitive instinct. He holds the record for the most wins in Grand Slam men's singles events, having won a total of 14 (7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open, and 2 Australian Open). Sampras led the world tennis rankings for six consecutive years, from 1993 to 1998. After a period of time during which he, by his own admission, lacked the drive and hunger needed to remain at the top, Sampras officially retired on August 25, 2003.
On September 30, 2001, Sampras married American actress Bridgette Wilson.
Sampras has thalassemia minor, a mild form of an inherited disease that causes anemia.
Sampras older sister Stella is head coach at UCLA and his younger sister, Marion, is a teacher in Los Angeles, his older brother, Gus, is tournament director at Scottsdale ATP event.
Some of the most famous matches Sampras has played include the following:
US Open 1990 Final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, Sampras' first Grand Slam tournament victory.
Wimbledon 1995 Final: defeated Boris Becker, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, in a clash of two of the top grass-court players of their generation.
Wimbledon 1996 Quarter-final: lost to Richard Krajicek, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4, Sampras' only loss at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000 inclusive.
US Open 1996 Quarter-final: defeated Alex Corretja, 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, after being physically ill on the court, and coming back from being match point down.
US Open 1997 Fourth Round: lost to Petr Korda, 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, an upset victory for Korda.
Wimbledon 1998 Final: defeated Goran Ivanisevic, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, in a thrilling 5-set final.
US Open 1998 Quarter-final: lost to Patrick Rafter, 6-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, in a sign that his dominance was fading.
Wimbledon 1999 Final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, in what Sampras called one of his best matches ever.
Australian Open 2000 Semi-final: lost to Andre Agassi, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1, in an exciting match.
US Open 2001 Semi-final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, a classic duel that featured a remarkable zero breaks of serve.
US Open 2002 Final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, in yet another memorable battle with his long-time rival. As it turned out, this was his last competitive match; he did not play in any subsequent tournaments before making his retirement official.
Sampras is known for several extraordinary facets in his game in particular:
An amazingly accurate and powerful first serve;
A second serve just as powerful as his first, possibly his most dangerous weapon;
A stellar forehand, in particular his "running forehand" (a forehand hit on the run) was considered the best in the world;
A phenomenal net game (Sampras' volleys are fabulous)
A decent one-handed backhand (something increasingly rare among top players)
His game strategy is quite simple. When serving, he's a "serve-and-volleyer": he'll serve it hard, forcing a bad return, and then runs up to hit the ball on the volley for an easy putaway. When not serving, he usually employs a "chip-and-charge" strategy: just chip back the return and run up to the net, waiting for a volley. These strategies are best on "fast" surfaces like concrete (and grass in particular) and are weak on "slow" surfaces like clay. As a result, he has dominated Wimbledon (played on grass) and has never won the French Open (played on clay).