Home Loving Pete
This is a summary of the interview that appeared on the ACE Magazine, UK (October 2001 issue). Pete was interviewed by Tiffany Osborne. If you wish to obtain a copy of the complete interview, publisher's information appears at the end. This interview was conducted after Wimbledon but prior to the US Open.
Pete Sampras was interviewed at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. The house previously owned by the sax player, Kenny G was described to be a "mixture of white brick and wood with green window shutters... a garden bordered with roses, leads from a patio down to a fair-sized pool, surrounded by miniature lemon trees." It has a gym, a pool table and, of course a tennis court.
Pete admitted that he likes to practice with the music of Pearl Jam."I love their music and I love what they're about," he says. "They act like who they are. They aren't like most rock stars - they are just very humble, unassuming guys, That's appealing to me. I like to know people who don't pump their tires [egos] up."
A description that fits Pete perfectly as well - a champion who prefers to keep his privacy rather than seek the limelight with a flashy lifestyle.
"I like privacy...Everyone has the perception that living in LA you go to premieres, which I've never had any interest in, and I still don't. I just spend a lot of time at home. I could be living anywhere, but LA just happens to be my home."
Pete described his married life: "I like being at home with my wife, watching a movie on TV, or sports, occasionally seeing a Lakers game, or watching golf and just seeing my folks in Palm Springs and my family. I've just become an uncle for the first time and yes, children is obviously something we've talked about and eventually we are going to start working on it! But not just now. If it happens it happens, but we are not planning on it, that's for sure."
Pete revealed that marrying Bridgette has brought stability and happiness in his life. "We got married after we'd been together for nine months, but I knew after four or five months that I was going to marry her. I have my highs and my lows, and we've experienced both from Wimbledon last year and this year. She's not from a tennis background, so she's had to work out what to do around my routine and that when I'm playing I have to be self-consumed about what I do. She is always there, supporting me. This year at Wimbledon it was hard dealing with me, because I can be very hard on myself and I can be bad. I wasn't too much fun to be around."
He described how the loss in the round of 16 in Wimbledon to Roger Federer dwelled on his mind for several days. "I wasn't expecting to be back home so soon. It was a tough one to swallow as I felt I was going to go on and win again. I spent a couple of days replaying the match over in my mind, and the chances I had. But you know, as dominating as I have been over the years, you have to be realistic that on the law of averages you are not going to win every close match. And I got so used to coming through tough matches that I always thought the match I would lose here would be against someone who played great. Like Krajicek did a few years ago. I didn't expect Federer to play that well, but I felt I played well enough to win and I had chances. That loss was extremely difficult to get over."
On his 2nd round loss at the French Open, Pete said, "It's one thing to lose and play the way you should play, but the way I played this year was absolutely dreadful. I didn't play well, and it's still a mystery to me why not."
Pete continued, "It's a mental thing, but also a tennis thing. It's second nature to me playing on grass and hard courts. But on clay I think I can go out with the same energy and the same type of aggressive game, and I'm going to get burned. You need to calm down the horses a little bit. And that's not so easy for me. I'm used to just going straight ahead with my power and pace. When it's not as effective and I start pressing a little bit, I start missing and dig myself a hole. And that's kind of been my tendency."
Still Pete remains positive about his chances at this elusive grand slam title in his resume. He believes that if everything falls into place "one year it could be my destiny."
But the year 2001 has been a winless one for Pete so far. His last title was at Wimbledon 2000. "This year has been a little disappointing - not to have won any majors first of all - but also the year has been inconsistent. A good Wimbledon would have made up for it, because that's the one tournament that's always saved my year a little bit. But there's no reason at this point to panic. There is a chance that I might not actually win a major this year but next year I feel I can possibly win them all, I feel I've got that in me."
This title drought has spawned a lot of discussion on Pete's looming retirement. He is 30 years old and this is already considered "old" for tennis players. Pete said, "I never gave the impression I was going to stop any time soon. I think people maybe assume that now that I'm married and now that I've broken the Grand Slam record, I have nothing else to prove, that [this year] was going to be my last Wimbledon. But it wasn't, and I'm not retiring!
"When I retire it will be because I don't want to do it anymore. It won't be because of my ability. I would be willing to go out and lose to people as long as I still wanted to go out there and compete. I mean, I'm not happy losing, but I won't stop until I feel that mentally, that's enough."
It is his winless year that also brought out questions about his motivation. He remains motivated for the Slams but admitted that the tournaments leading up to the slams are tough because of the physical and mental toll. " I've dug deep so many times in my career. It's tiring. And it's because I've been at the top and so consistent for so long that something had to give at some point. Whereas someone like Agassi, who has his ups and downs, is able to play better as he's got older."
"All my inspiration comes from inside," he reveals. "I don't have to look at Andre or others to see what they are doing and to inspire me to do better. After breaking the Grand Slam record I've had to find my new goal, to re-invent something, which is to keep winning majors, add to the record and put distance between myself and the others."
"If it ended tomorrow, honestly, I would be very happy to have been No.1 for so many years and having won more Slams than anyone. But having said that, I've still got a few years left in me… I'm not retiring yet!"
Interview supplied by Katherine Wood, Samprasfanz
ACE magazine. Published by Tennis GB, 9-11 North End Road, London, W14 8ST England. Tel. 020 7605 8000 Fax. 020 7602 2323