What keeps Pete playing?
This is a summary of the interview that appeared on the ACE Magazine, UK (July 2001 issue). Pete was interviewed by Joth Allmeroth. If you wish to obtain a copy, publisher's information appears at the end.
Pete has to deal with the constant pressure of being a champion wherein every player wants to beat him. To succeed, he has kept a healthy respect for his opponents. "But I also say to myself: I'm better than them," Pete said. This is not arrogance talking but the self assurance of a champion.
Comparing the physical challenge against the mental challenge, Pete declared that it is more difficult to handle the mental aspect of the game. "You always have to be fresh in your own mind, always find your inner concentration, and always keep cool at the important moments of the important games. Compared to that, the physical exertion pales into insignificance."
Pete also repeated his opinion on the current state of tennis -- that the long tennis schedule creates a heavy toll on the body players. He also stated that because of the depth of men's tennis right now, there's no rivalry similar to his and Andre's. This has led to the loss of interest in tennis in the United States. He compared himself and Andre to 2 boxers in the ring: No. 1 vs. No. 2 and described it as his best period of tennis because of the intensity.
Pete was asked to comment on the "boring" personality that his critics have often labelled him. He replied, "I want to be accepted as the best tennis player. I’m not interested in the gossip columns... I’m delighted when parents come up to me and say: Pete, you’re a role model for our children. It’s moments like this that convince me that you really don’t have to play the bad boy to improve your image. I simply don’t want to court controversy for controversy’s sake."
"I don’t want to be remembered as a comedian or an entertainer, but as the man who won the most Grand Slams in tennis. The best show is tennis itself, a spectacular stroke, a great victory."
Pete got married last year to Hollywood actress, Bridgette Wilson. When he was asked how important it was to have her watch his matches, Pete admitted, "It's great if I can look up to the stand and see her face... I am always very happy when Bridgette comes to tournaments with me. And players have to be happy to win. None of us is a souless robot."
He described his life as a tennis player. "It’s all geared towards success. There’s no great variation. You train, you play, you go for a massage. In the hotel you try to relax. Listen to music, watch TV, and go for a meal in the evening. And sleep a lot. I’m a great sleeper; I can sleep for up to 14 hours on the trot. And I can sleep anywhere."
He still has not decided to do after his professsional tennis career is over. However, he doesn't want to be a tv commentator or coach or Davis Cup captain. Pete said, "When it is no longer possible to win the great tournaments, the fire goes out in you. That's when it's time to bow out."
ACE magazine. Published by Tennis GB, 9-11 North End Road, London, W14 8ST England. Tel. 020 7605 8000 Fax. 020 7602 2323
Interview supplied by Georgia Christoforou.