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Sampras, Pete


SAMPRAS, PETE ("Pistol Pete," "The King of Swing"; 1971– ), U.S. tennis player, 1997 U.S. Olympic Committee "Sportsman of the Year." Sampras is considered by many tennis analysts to be the greatest tennis player of all time. He was born in Washington, dc, to a Greek family, though his paternal grandmother was a Sephardi Jew. At the age of seven he began playing tennis, and by the age of 11 was spotted by a tennis enthusiast who correctly identified his talent and arranged for personalized formal training. Sampras turned professional at age 17 and within two years won his first titles, including the 1990 U.S. Open, where he defeated Andre Agassi to become the youngest player ever to win that tournament. Ironically, Sampras' final match before retirement would be another defeat of Agassi for the U.S. Open title, this time making Sampras the oldest player ever to win the Open. As a professional from 1988 to 2002, he won 762 of 984 matches, capturing 64 singles titles, including a record 14 Grand Slam victories, with eight of them won in straight sets. Throughout his career, Sampras was known for his intense concentration, and especially for his highly accurate 130 mph (209 kph) serve – in 1993, he became the first player to serve over 1,000 aces in a season. Amongst Sampras' other records are his six consecutive years finishing as the Association of Tennis Professionals (atp) No. 1 ranked player in the world (1993–98), 286 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the atp, and seven Wimbledon titles (tied with Willie Renshaw).

[Robert Klein (2nd ed.)]

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