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Posted on: December 08th, 2010

One of tennis' ultimate winners, Pete Sampras, suffers a major loss

- petepage

LA Times
December 7, 2010

Trophies and other memorabilia from Sampras' record-setting tennis career recently were stolen from a public storage facility. He still has championship hardware for 13 of his 14 Grand Slam singles titles, but almost everything else is gone.

When Pete Sampras finished his legendary tennis career, he had enough hardware to open a store. Also, the perfect name: Aces.

No longer.

Sampras has been robbed of the majority of trophies, medals, plaques, crystal and rings that are a testament to a career that brought a then-record 14 major titles and status as one of the greatest ever to play the game. Three weeks ago, he found out that the dozens of boxes containing these symbols of his career had been stolen.

"I have 13 of my 14 Grand Slam trophies," he said. "Some are at home and some up at NikeTown [in Portland]. My first Australian Open trophy is gone, and so is everything else."

Seven Wimbledon, five U.S. Open and one Australian Open trophy remain.

"Everything else" includes trophies for winning 64 tour tournaments, and finalist hardware from 24 others. It includes what he was presented for winning five season-ending ATP World Tour titles, for being on two Davis Cup winners, and for taking 11 ATP Masters event titles. It includes an Olympic ring, seven ESPYs and six trophies awarded to the player who finished No. 1 in the year-end rankings. Sampras, now 39, did that from 1993 to '98.

The items were stolen from a public storage facility in West Los Angeles. Sampras had rented two units and stored furniture and the boxes of memorabilia. All, except for some large furniture, was taken.

"We've had some housing issues," Sampras said, "and we stored things while we were sorting that out."

A few years ago, he and his wife, actress Bridgett Wilson, and their sons Christian and Ryan had moved from Beverly Hills to Thousand Oaks and a home in the hills surrounding Sherwood Country Club. Recently, they moved again, this time to Brentwood.

Sampras said he never considered that his things wouldn't be safe.

"I was like, 'What?'" he said. "I thought there were security cameras. I thought these things were locked up tight. I was shocked."

He said police currently have no leads, but they encouraged him to go public in the hope that somebody who knows somebody who heard something might come forward.

An LAPD spokesperson confirmed an investigation is ongoing and said the responsibility has been transferred to the commercial crimes unit downtown.

Sampras said he had no way of knowing whether his trophies were targeted, or if they just were taken with the furniture that was stolen.

Obviously, putting the 1994 Australian men's singles championship trophy on EBay would quickly raise questions, as would just about everything else Sampras lost. So the next step for those with Sampras' hardware is clearly problematic.

Nor is Sampras treating this as a catastrophe.

"I'm not one to gloat about trophies, or show them off," Sampras said. "I've never been like that. I just want them for my kids to see. They didn't see me play, but I'd like them to see these things."

Christian is 8, Ryan 5. Sampras' last professional match was his 2002 victory over Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open final.

"Losing this stuff," he said, "is like having the history of my tennis life taken away."

Magazine articles are gone, including many with Sampras on the cover. So are newspaper clippings, including front-page L.A. Times stories after he tied and broke Roy Emerson's Grand Slam record.

Also lost are a signed program from Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder, a signed piano bench from Elton John and a signed guitar from Carlos Santana.

Sampras said none of this was insured because there was no real way to assess value.

"For me to have it for my kids is priceless," he said. "I just hope it hasn't already been destroyed. That's why I wanted to get the word out now. I know this is a longshot, but I'd regret it if I didn't at least try. Maybe somebody knows something.

"That's all I can hope for."

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