(born August 12
), is an American
player, amongst the greatest to play the game.
Sampras was born in Washington D.C. He has a powerful serve that saw him nicknamed "Pistol", a good all-round game and a strong competitive instinct. He holds the record for the most wins in Grand Slam events, having won a total of 14 (7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open, 2 Australian Open). Sampras was the number one ranked player for six consecutive years, 1993-1998. After a period of time during which he, by his own admission, lacked the drive and hunger needed to remain at the top, Sampras officially retired on August 25, 2003 and is widely considered as one of the top players in tennis history.
Sampras's pro career began in 1988. His first victory in a Grand Slam tournament came at the US Open in 1990, when he defeated Andre Agassi. The rivalry between the two men lasted throughout the 1990s. Sampras dominated Wimbledon for much of the 1990s, taking the title there in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Whereas the grass courts of Wimbledon play to Sampras's strengths, his only real weakness is on clay, where the slow surface tends to negate his natural attacking serve-and-volley game, and he has never progressed beyond the semi-final stage at the French Open. His businesslike attitude during play and cautious handling of the press has led critics to bemoan his lack of charisma, but his natural talent and work ethic has meant that Sampras has been able to let the results speak for him.
Some of the most famous matches Sampras has played include the following:
- US Open 1990 Final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, Sampras' first Grand Slam tournament victory.
- Wimbledon 1995 Final: defeated Boris Becker, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, in a clash of two of the top grass-court players of their generation.
- Wimbledon 1996 Quarter-final: lost to Richard Krajicek, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4, Sampras' only loss at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000 inclusive.
- US Open 1996 Quarter-final: defeated Alex Corretja, 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, after being physically ill on the court, and coming back from being match point down.
- US Open 1997 Fourth Round: lost to Petr Korda, 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, an upset victory for Korda.
- Wimbledon 1998 Final: defeated Goran Ivanisevic, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, in a thrilling 5-set final.
- US Open 1998 Quarter-final: lost to Patrick Rafter, 6-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, in a sign that his dominance was fading.
- Wimbledon 1999 Final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, in what Sampras called one of his best matches ever.
- Australian Open 2000 Semi-final: lost to Andre Agassi, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1, in an exciting match.
- US Open 2001 Semi-final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, a classic duel that featured a remarkable zero breaks of serve.
- US Open 2002 Final: defeated Andre Agassi, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, in yet another memorable battle with his long-time rival. As it turned out, this was his last competitive match; he did not play in any subsequent tournaments before making his retirement official.
On September 30
, Sampras married American actress Bridgette Wilson.
Sampras has thalassemia minor, a mild form of an inherited disease that causes anemia.