Inside the life of Pete Sampras including his staggering fortune
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American tennis legend Pete Sampras is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time – and for good reason. Before the ‘Big 3’ era – including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – began in 2003, Sampras was the biggest name in tennis and held the record for the highest number of Grand Slam titles on the men’s circuit.
His exceptional all-around game enabled him to win 14 Grand Slam singles titles, a record among male players until 2009, when it was broken by Federer.
In the 1990s, Americans made up half the ATP’s top ten and, at the time of writing, there are no US men in the top 3, though an array of young stars from the nation are on the cusp of breaking that glass ceiling.
The Maryland native won the Australian Open twice, the US Open five times, and the Wimbledon Championships as many as seven times, taking his tally to a staggering 14 major titles. He won 64 singles titles in total.
In the late summer of 2002, he came to the US Open as a champion in name only. He had just turned 31 which, at the time, was was regarded as geriatric in tennis years.
He was ranked No 17, 16 spots below his standard and had gone 33 straight events without winning a title.
At the previous major, Wimbledon – the lawns he dominated for a full decade – Sampras was exiled to an outside court to play his second-round match, where he promptly lost to a journeyman.
Down but not out, Sampras returned for the US Open later that year and would go on to win it in fairytale circumstances. Incredibly, Sampras did not play in another tournament and, in 2003, he officially retired from the sport.
After lifting the US Open for the fifth time, Sports Illustrated declared him as “the greatest man ever to play the game”. He was later inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
On the face of it, John McEnroe retired from tennis with seven majors. While his counterpart Agassi, another Mount Rushmore player, had seven at the time, too. Sampras was to bow out on 14 majors – a target his closest rivals at the time could not compare to.
In the two decades since, Sampras – estimated to be worth around £125m ($150m) – has led a quiet, private, homebound life and is married to actress Bridgette Wilson, best known for roles in The Wedding Planner and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
The couple welcomed their first son, Christian, in 2002, and their second, Ryan, in 2005.
His second son, Ryan, looks destined for a bright future in the sport. According to his father, he plays a lot and even began playing junior tennis, so he understands what it’s like to be a tennis player.
Since retiring, Sampras gets asked the predictable question: “Do you miss tennis?” The American, though, has a standard answer: “I miss the game, but I don’t miss the stress of it.”
And while he may no longer hold the all-time majors record, Sampras went out on top – cementing himself as one of the best to ever play the sport.
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