hail to the chief

September 3, 2006

agassi.jpg
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Tennis legend Andre Agassi ended his professional career today in a thrilling match against the young German Benjamin Becker in the third round of the 2006 US Open. Fighting back pain and fatigue from the previous two rounds, he fought mightily to advance but fell short against Becker’s surprising quickness and powerful serves, which regularly exceeded 130 mph. The 36-year old Agassi, a veteran of 21 consecutive US Open tournaments, fought back tears as he spoke to the crowd of 24,000, whose deafening applause fell silent for a moment:

“The scoreboard said I lost today. But what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I’ve found generosity.”

“You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.”

As he took his final bows and began to walk towards the exit of Arthur Ashe Stadium, never to return, I realized that this was perhaps the single most genuine, most real moment I had ever witnessed in sports or on television, truly exemplifying Edward R. Murrow’s most optimistic dreams of the vast potential of the medium. What a player, and what a man Andre Agassi is. Through the magic of lenses, wires, and cathode rays, we bear witness to and honor that legacy today. Agassi will be missed, but he will also be remembered. It is as one of the many signs wielded aloft by fans proclaimed: true legends never die.

–D. S. W.

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