Andre Agassi couldn’t have hoped for a more remarkable last hurrah. Nobody seemed to care if he had just lost his last match, as multiple standing ovations rang down the curtains on his 21-year career at the US Open on Sunday. Even Benjamin Becker, who pulled off the victory of his life by downing Agassi in a 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-5 marathon, was apparently applauding, eyes brimming with tears. That Agassi was playing with a painful back was testimony to the incredible resilience that made him — at 33 — the oldest world number one (back in 1999), just a couple of years after slumping to 141 in the rankings. No wonder the tennis world often rates him more interesting than Pete Sampras and Roger Federer put together.
Agassi leaves us a lifetime of memories — of an icon displaying his signature brand of backcourt tennis from his late teens and 20s well into his 30s. It has been an amazing span that often confounded, even as it entertained. The only man in the modern game to win Grand Slams on every surface, Agassi is inarguably one of the most compelling players of all time. He ceaselessly reinvented himself to transcend tennis in many ways.
And his splendid tennis, of course: with Agassi in full flow, tennis becomes a near-perfect blend of art and science and few players can stand across the net and come out on top. Like any other game, tennis needs its stars and heroes to draw the crowds. Agassi did that, and much more, his charitable work and admirable family life making him an icon for players and fans alike. Hopefully, we haven’t seen the last of him.