Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wimbledon Past: Andre Agassi

At the beginning of the 1990s, the tennis world was dominated by Swedes and Germans. The Steffis, Stefans, Michaels and Borises were wholesome and athletic, but not particularly inspirational when it came to (my) adolescent fantasies. Then Andre Agassi appeared on the scene.

His long bleached hair and big dark soulful eyes made me melt. The stories of his bad-boy past didn't hurt either.

He posed looking more like Bret Michaels than John McEnroe.

He was small for a tennis player and not especially elegant, but he returned serve better than anyone else and bounded around the court like an enthusiastic puppy with his long blonde hair flying behind him.

And there was always that raw emotion and puppy-dog-eyed vulnerability bubbling under the surface.

The summer of 1992 saw a wave of Andre-mania as he battled his way through to win Wimbledon, and famously posed with his very eighties girlfriend: big hair, leather jacket, and tight jeans. For me, she was something to aspire to, just like the girls in Guns'n'Roses videos, tattooed and smoking and hanging off Axl's arm.

After that, my Agassi obsession slowly waned. He left his childhood sweetheart for a series of romances with the likes of Barbara Streisand and Brooke Shields, and the wild-child outsider seemed to have become properly mainstream.

A couple of summers later, I came into school and was greeted by the news that Agassi had cut all his hair off. A sad day and the end of an era.