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Samprasfanz » Archives 2002 » WTT-Smash Hits: Pete Sampras Interview

WTT-Smash Hits: Pete Sampras Interview


Pete Sampras talked about his upcoming appearance with Billie Jean King, Elton John and Andre Agassi in the 10th Anniversary of World TeamTennis (WTT) Smash Hits, an annual tennis charity event slated for Thursday, October 3 at The Pavilion at Villanova University beginning at 7 p.m.

On what fans can expect in next week’s WTT Smash Hits event in Philadelphia:

“The event is great. It’s light-hearted, relaxed and a fun atmosphere to be in. The Philly fans are obviously going to see some good tennis, but they’ll also see the lighter side of things…A few trick shots and some mockery of one another. Those are the things that people enjoy watching. There’s always a little competitive edge with Andre and I whether we’re playing after the U.S. Open or in some park. When it comes to hitting a few balls, we still tend to want to punish each other in some way, but the first and foremost goal at this event is to put on a good show and have fun.”

On what playing in WTT Smash Hits means to him:

“I met Elton John a number of years ago and we’ve developed a friendship. His foundation is extremely important to him…And important to me. He asked me to play in the event a while back to help raise money for this worthy cause…And to play some tennis and have some fun. He’s a big sports fan. I’ve played eight out of the ten years the event has been around, and it’s an incredible event that benefits so many. I mean…He was nice enough to play at my wedding!”

On Elton John and Billie Jean King’s tennis game at the WTT Smash Hits event:

“Elton works hard at his tennis game. He really has that competitive drive. Each year he gets a little bit better. He travels with a full time tennis coach when he’s on the road, so he’s really passionate about the sport. I’m sure it’s a little nerve-racking for him to get out on the court since he’s out of his element, but he’s done a great job. Billie Jean has great skill for the ball, which is something you don’t really loose even as you get a little older. She still has a great feel and touch for the game, which is something she’ll have forever.”

On his involvement in charity work:

“I think athletes and people in general have a responsibility to help with charities and to really give back to their community. Some charities have been closer to me than others…Having Tim Gullickson lose his battle with brain cancer…I’ve had breast cancer in my family. You have to give something back. Sports have been very good to me in a lot of ways and gives me the opportunity to be able to help out other causes. Elton’s cause is one of them. I think I have a responsibility, especially when it hits home and is actually something you enjoy being a part of. You can’t do it all…You just have to pick and choose what’s important to you.”

On his future in tennis and plans on retirement:

“At this point I’m still enjoying what happened at the U.S. Open…And I’m still not sure what the future holds. A part of me thinks that winning the U.S. Open title is a great way to end things, but the other part of me loves to have fun again and play at that high level. I’m leaving the door open right now. I’m still really thinking about it. I’ll probably make a decision within the next 3-4 weeks as to the training regimen and my schedule for next year.”

On his future goals in tennis and how that determines his mindset at this point in his career:

“This last major was the toughest title and something I’ve never had to do before…Make a comeback. I feel like I’ve done it all from a tennis standpoint, but this last one was more of a character victory…More of a “how bad do I really want it” mental test, because everyone had been writing me off for so long. To come through that means more to me than say 5 years ago when I was winning a couple majors a year and may have took it for granted. Tennis is something I love to do and once it’s over…it’s over. Besides, I would love to play Wimbledon one more time and say my goodbyes there. I’m weighing my options at this point.”

Filed under: Archives 2002

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