Articles Comments

Samprasfanz » Archives 2003 to 2011 » Sampras ready to venture into post-tennis career [Mar 7, 2003]

Sampras ready to venture into post-tennis career [Mar 7, 2003]

Pete Sampras won’t be playing in a tournament again next week, but he’ll have plenty to do besides spend time with his wife, Bridgette Wilson, and his 3-month-old son, Christian. That’s because Sampras, who holds the career Grand Slam tournament titles record of 14, is lining up his business future as his tennis career winds down.

Sampras has become active in two business ventures, as a financial stakeholder in The Tennis Channel and the Pete Sampras Tennis Academy, both of which are expected to begin this year.

In December 2001, Sampras bought a stake in the round-the-clock cable channel with which he will have a presence both behind the scenes and on the air.

Sampras has told network executives he wants to have an instructional show and a behind-the-scenes look at Sampras will be the first episode of the channel’s personality show, “No Strings,” said the channel’s president and founder Steve Bellamy. While waiting for the launch, Sampras has been making appearances, picking up the phone and writing letters for the network.

“He has always told me that he is very envious of (former hockey great and current Phoenix Coyotes managing partner) Wayne Gretzky,” Bellamy said. “Wayne was the top dog in the game and he remained on top when he got into the business world. Pete wants to follow the same path, and I know he’ll be successful at it. If you can succeed in tennis, which is as physically challenging as boxing and as mentally challenging as chess, you can succeed in anything.”

Sampras also will be busy managing the Pete Sampras Tennis Academy, a training camp for ultra-competitive up-and-comers. The academy will open in September at The Home Depot Center, a 85-acre sports complex in Carson, Calif., that will house a 13,000-seat tennis stadium. Sampras is an equal partner with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which developed and will operate the facility, in the tennis academy business.

“He’s been involved in every detail to date, from the budgeting of the project to identifying types of programming to writing the actual curriculum for the academy,” said Bill Peterson, AEG’s senior vice president for events. “Since he’s putting his name on it, he cares about his reputation and is totally committed to make this a special place for young players.”

Sampras should have plenty of opportunities in the corporate world, if he chooses to pursue them.

“Pete has always been the consummate professional,” said Steve Rosner, a partner of 16W Marketing, which represents retired athletes including Howie Long, Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason. “I definitely think he’s one of those guys that will allow himself to get more involved in the marketing side when he’s no longer playing.”

Hiring retired athletes also minimizes the risk should a player in an advertising campaign go down with an injury. Four NFL spokesmen for Campbell’s Soup — Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Jerome Bettis and Donovan McNabb — were sidelined with injuries last season.

Although Sampras’ personality has been labeled by many as boring, Rosner says “it was because Andre Agassi was so outrageous, it made Pete look more bland than he really was.” Sampras could easily make $750,000 to $1 million by signing a three-year deal with a company to make appearances at the U.S. Open, according to Rosner. Speaking bureaus have said that Sampras would command at least $40,000 for public speaking engagements.

But Sampras, who has made more than $43 million on the court during his career, is known for asking for the sky. In a highly publicized battle in January 2002, Sampras announced he was not renewing with Nike — which has a building named after him on their Beaverton, Ore., campus –because he felt insulted during the negotiations process. Months later, he agreed to wear the swoosh again.

“Pete has made so much money over the years that in order for him to do something, he asks for very high prices that are usually unrealistic,” said Ryan Schinman, president of Platinum Rye Entertainment, a marketing firm that has pitched deals to Sampras. “People are going to want to work with him for his durability, reliability and recognizability, but he has to realize that he’s not going to be getting a Grand Slam paycheck.”

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for, can be reached at

Source: ESPN

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

Leave a Reply