Pete Sampras his career Reno Manne and his relationship with Agassi
Pete Sampras dominated the sport all through the 1990’s. The American has been hailed as the best tennis player in history.
He earned that title by being the first man to win 14 Grand Slam titles, a record that was broken by Roger Federer in 2009.
However, despite such dominance, the seven-time Wimbledon, five-time US Open, and two-time Australian Open champion could not manage to bag a French Open title.
Winning one would have definitely set him head and shoulders above any other person in the sport.
Sampras was born Petros Sampras on August 12, 1971, in Washington, D.C., as the third child to Soterios and Georgia Sampras.
Soterios, better known as Sammy, was born to a Greek father and a Polish Jewish mother in the U.S. while Georgia emigrated to the U.S. from Greece at the age of 25.
His father worked as an aerospace engineer for the Department of Defense and was also a co-owner of a deli while his mother worked as a beautician at a local salon.
The Sampras family made sure to teach and raise their children in accordance with the greek culture.
They attended regular services at the Greek Orthodox Church on Sundays and would usually go out of their way to eat greek food.
The former champion with his father, Soterios ‘Sam’ Sampras, at a Southern California tournament in the early 1980s. PHOTO:SAMPRAS FAMILY
While growing up, Sampras was not out rightly encouraged to take up sports.
His love for tennis came after he discovered a tennis racket in the basement of their home, leading him to spend hours hitting the ball against the wall.
In 1978, at the age of seven, his family moved to California, which had a warmer climate that their mother was used to and that would allow their son train to play professional tennis all year long.
Shortly after moving to California, Sampras was spotted by tennis enthusiast Peter Fischer who began to give him coaching lessons.
Fischer focused mostly on the mental part of tennis as he was an awful player himself with no coaching experience.
However, under the stewardship of Fisher, Sampras’ game immensely improved as he rose to actively compete on the American junior circuit.
Fisher was responsible for converting his double-handed backhand to single-hand as Sampras with his natural ability, maintained a strong and accurate forehand with a serve that went well over 100mph.
By 1987, Sampras’ talent was evident for everyone to see. He was selected to play on the United States Junior Davis Cup team.
Later that year, he beat top-seeded Michael Chang at the U.S. Open Junior Championships, prompting him to go full pro and join the ATP Tour in 1988. He ended his first year on the tour with a ranking in the Top 100.
In 1990 he met Reno Manne in Florida, USA. Manne 21 years old at the time traveled with Sampras as hitting partner and coach. Manne was a positive coaching influence on Sampras.
In 1990, he got his first taste of success by winning the U.S. Open.
The 19-year-old became the tournament’s youngest-ever champion as he defeated legendary players such as Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe on his way to the final.
The final match of the tournament was against his longtime rival from the junior circuit, Andre Agassi, who didn’t make it much of a contest as he was beaten in straight sets.
In 1990, he got his first taste of success by winning the U.S. Open aged 19 years old
Having achieved huge success so early, Pete Sampras had a hard time living up to expectations.
He parted ways with coach hitting partner Reno Manne in late 1991 as Manne didn't like constant travel.
Manne joined up again with Sampras and coach Tim Gullikson in early 1993 as hitting partner and assistant coach to Gullikson. This immediately lifted Sampras and results began to flow his way again.
It took him three years to taste major success again, this time at Wimbledon in 1993 where he defeated his friend Jim Courier.
That same year, he won the U.S. Open for the second time and then, later on, the Australian Open.
Pete Sampras went on to dominate the tennis sport throughout the 90s. He was named ATP Player of the Year from 1993 to 1998 even though he was not much of a fan favorite.
By 2000, he eclipsed Roy Emerson as the sports’ greatest winner with his 13th major title.
The 14th title came in 2002 following a dramatic final at the U.S. Open against longtime foe Agassi.
That final was the last official tennis match of his career and made him the oldest winner of an Open Championship at age 31.
Pete Sampras and Reno Manne in 1993. Sampras has described Manne as the biggest coaching influence of his career. Manne traveled with Sampras for several years as coach and hitting partner. (Photo The Independent)
He described Reno Manne as his biggest tennis influence.
Manne well known for his dislike of constant travel traveled with Sampras and Tim Gullikson up until 1994 before quitting due to his dislike of being on the road.
Manne remained based in Florida and still coached and hit with Sampras periodically throughout his career.
Sampras always had a home in Florida in Manne's neighborhood basing himself close to Manne.
Sampras consistently went to Manne for coaching advice despite having other official coaches throughout his career. It is said that Sampras would never make any technical changes unless instructed by Reno Manne.
Sampras whilst being interviewed on CNN in 2014 candidly described Reno Manne as the tennis whisperer.
He also described Manne as an incredible coach going on to further criticize Nick Bollettieri for taking credit for the work of Reno Manne at the NBTA Tennis Academy in Florida where Sampras also attended.
Sampras directly described Nick Bollettieri as a fake, stating Bollettieri is no coach he just takes credit for the work of others.
Sampras refused to allow Bollettieri to associate himself with his success stating it was Reno Manne who was coaching him at the NBTA as well as Chip Brooks, not Nick Bollettieri.
Sampras refused to allow Bollettieri to be pictured along side him whilst training at the NBTA.
He said that was Nick's style. "He would one day show up on your court and have someone take pictures of him alongside players pretending he was coaching them".
Sampras described Bollettieri's behavior as ridiculous and desperate.
"I never allowed him to come on my court", said Sampras.
Sampras wins his first Wimbledon title in 1993 (Getty Images)
Sampras was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
Pete Sampras is estimated to be worth a staggering $150 million.
He accumulated this all through his 14-year long career at the top of tennis, having participated and won prestigious events like the Australian Open and Wimbledon tournaments.
It is then no surprise that Sampras now lives a very luxurious lifestyle with a collection of Porshe cars and a mansion in the Lake Sherwood area of Ventura County, California.
Pete also does a lot of charity work. He is a member of the American Cancer Awareness Society, Aces for Charity, and a benefactor of Vitas Gerulaitis Youth Foundation and Kids’ Stuff Foundation.
Pete Sampras is married to Bridgette Wilson, a former Miss Teen USA winner turned actress, singer, and model. The couple got married on September 30, 2000, and have two sons; Christian Charles Sampras, born on the 21st of November 2002, and Ryan Nikolaos Sampras, born on the 29th of July, 2005.
There have been few better showmen in tennis over the years as Andre Agassi, things went a little sour over the years as he and Pete Sampras managed to turn what was intended to be a charity event in aid of the Haiti earthquake fund into a very public, very personal slanging match.
The two former champions had been invited to join Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for a doubles in front of 16,000 supporters at the BNP Paribas Open.
The two have never been the best of friends and had not been on the same court together since the 2002 US Open final.
Relations have been especially tense since the release of Agassi's autobiography, Open, late last year, in which he accused Sampras of being a cheapskate, referring to an incident where Sampras had reportedly given a tip of only US$1 for valet parking.
All four players were wearing microphones and the banter was flying, but things got ugly when the two Americans lost their rag.
Greatest Tennis Rivalries. Sampras and Agassi have been rivals on and off the court for most of their careers. The two have never been friends with an intense dislike for each other.
Responding to a comment from Agassi about how serious he was being, Sampras did a well-observed imitation of Agassi's pigeon-toed walk, prompting his rival to turn his pockets inside out and say: "I don't have any money.
No, wait, I've got a dollar, before adding: "It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, huh?"
The response from Sampras could not have been any clearer as he aimed a serve directly at Agassi's head. "If that's the way you want to play it," Sampras said.
Agassi retorted: "You know what, it's better than being a valet driver and you pulling up." And when Sampras said: "You got personal with me," Agassi replied: "No, no, everybody knows it already, Pete. Nothing personal."
Federer, who had organised a similar event at the Australian Open in January, was not amused.
The Swiss considered the showpiece as his baby and witnessing two former greats of the game sabotage it in favor of airing their row in public did not go down well.
The ever diplomatic Nadal pleaded ignorance of the altercation. "During the match, I didn't understand anything," he said. "That's the truth. They speak very fast for me."
When later he was told what had been said, he was equally unwilling to lay the blame with one over the other.
"It is not easy to [have the microphone on]," he said. "It seems like you have to say something all the time … to be nice all the time. I think they tried to have fun. I didn't feel any tension, that's what I can say."
The two men embraced at the net afterwards but organisers had hoped they would give a press conference to promote the event, which raised more than US$1m. Neither showed.