Andre Agassi has often narrated how he and Steffi Graf ended up together from being total strangers. In the early 1990s, the American star had a huge crush on the German icon and even tried to approach her multiple times without success.
He then married Hollywood actor Brooke Shields in 1997 but the couple filed for divorce in 1999. Even before his divorce was final, Agassi once again started attempting to get in touch with Graf, with the help of their respective coaches Brad Gilbert and Heinz Gunthardt. The eight-time Grand Slam winner succeeded this time as he started dating Graf, who was with German professional racing driver Michael Bartels at the time.
Turning pro in 1982, Steffi Graf achieved unbelievable success early in her career and was hailed as one of the best players ever. She lifted her 22nd Grand Slam title at the age of 30 but shocked the tennis world by announcing her early retirement soon after.
In an excerpt from Agassi’s 2009-released autobiography Open, he revealed the first conversation in 1999, where Graf told him about calling it a day. It was a shocker even for Agassi.
“She mentions that she’ll need to call a news conference. A news conference? For what? My retirement. You’re retiring? That’s what I just said. I’m done. When you said done, I thought you meant done for the tournament! I didn’t know you meant — done. I feel bereft, thinking of tennis without Stefanie Graf, the greatest women’s player of all time,” Agassi wrote. “I ask how it feels knowing she’ll never swing a racket in competition again. It’s the kind of question reporters ask me every day, but I can’t help myself. I want to know. I ask with a mixture of curiosity and envy. She says it feels fine. She’s at peace, more than ready to be done.”
The couple were married in October 2001 and have been living together in Agassi’s hometown of Las Vegas.
Ever since retiring from professional tennis in 1999, Steffi Graf has maintained a low profile. The legendary player was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine’s June edition in Germany.
Speaking on a program on the Tennis Channel last month, journalist Jon Wertheim praised Graf for staying true to her word and remaining away from the public eye, unlike most other athletes.