Sampras ‘Mans-Up’ for First Euro Senior Tour Appearance
by Richard Vach | April 15th, 2008, 11:42 am
  • 21 Comments

Pete Sampras has been enjoying his retirement, but now he says it’s time to man-up and get back to work.


Sampras, who won one of three Asian exhibition matches off Roger Federer last year and narrowly lost to the world No. 1 this year in Madison Square Garden, announced he will for the first time compete on the European senior tour, the ATP-run Blackrock Tour of Champions.

“I have two kids — a five-year-old, Christian, and a 2-year-old, Ryan, and it has been a lot of fun to see them grow and spend time with them,” Sampras told the Blackrock Tour of Champions podcast. “But, at the same time I feel like a man should work, maybe I’m a little old-fashioned. It took me a while to get to the realization that I would like to play again and get back into the sport. When I was 26, I never thought I would want to play Champions tennis. But, as time goes on, when you’re playing golf, taking some trips here and there and maybe putting on a little bit of weight, you just kind of feel a little bit unfulfilled as a man. That’s how I felt.”

Sampras will play two Blackrock tournaments in 2008: the Grand Champions Brasil in Sao Paulo on May 21-24, and the year-ending BlackRock Masters Tennis event on Dec. 2-7 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The former No. 1 says he likes the laid-back senior tour atmosphere.

“I used to be so focused that I would just see the hotel and the courts and that was it,” Sampras said. “I had the feeling that I was expected to win and then there was all the pressure that I put on myself. Today, I still want to play well and still want to win but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world. It’s a totally different feel. I was pretty serious when I played but now I’m a little more relaxed. At the same time, people do want to see competitive tennis, they want to see the real deal. The crowd still want to see me serve and volley the way I used to and pull off my shots, but with a slightly lighter atmosphere.”

With the competitive juices flowing, can a Wimbledon wildcard be far behind for the man who promised fans he would be back after a second-round loss in his last appearance in 2002? Last year Sampras won titles at all three events he competed in on the primarily U.S.-based Outback Champions senior tour.


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21 Comments for Sampras ‘Mans-Up’ for First Euro Senior Tour Appearance

jane Says:

A man has to work – unless he’s made umpteen millions before the age of 30. LOL. Funny that Pete puts it in those terms.

But it does raise the question: what does a player do after leaving a career in professional sports, especially if they’re not cut out to be a commentator or a coach, which seem to be the routes for many.

They could always get a Law Degree, like Mario Ancic just did, as per the ATP website.

As for Sampras playing Wimbledon again: I hope he doesn’t. Let it to the rest now Pete; you have enough hardware from SW19!!


johnnhoj Says:

I saw Pete play a charity fundraising exo with Todd Martin at the Maravich Arena on the LSU campus back in Nov. ’06. Even though the two goofed off on occasion, handing their racquets over to children and such, it looked like Pete could still play some serious tennis, even though he has a penchant for trying to hastily end the points almost all the time. He was fairly quick in his step, and his running forehand was explosive. Sure, it was a year and a half ago, but that’s fairly recent. Plus, he’s gotten back into tennis with his participation in the BlackRock Geriatric Tour. He may be exhibiting mange, but he can still pack a whallop. Like Guga with Roland Garros ’08, Pete should try for a wild card at Wimbledon ’08, a last hurrah. Come on, go for it! No regrets, Pete, come on! If you lose, you could always blame it on your age. :^D


Skorocel Says:

BlackRock Geriatric Tour? LOL! :)


Von Says:

I have always been a huge Sampras fan, but, not a blind one, with respect to his inadequacies and flaws from an humanistic viewpoint. There’s always been one aspect of his character that I have always questioned, or one that stands out, and that is his lack of generosity toward humanity. From what I have observed, he’s not been one for giving something back for all that he has accomplished. Unlike Agassi, Roddick, Courier and many others who have gotten involved in some type of charity, and giving of their time to underprivileged children, it seemed to me that Pete was just content to play his tennis, accumulate as much money that was there for the taking, and enjoy his riches. That type of lifestyle and selfishness can lead to a very unfulfilled existence. Giving freely of onesself from a thankful heart is very rewarding and can absolutely add joy and fulfillment to our lives. As we give, so shall we receive. Hence, Pete has not given much on the humanity front, thus, it is no wonder why he would feel unfulfilled, as a human being. Being unfulfilled as a man, is just an aside, if one adheres to a lifestyle of not giving, they’ll be unfulfilled.

jane: “But it does raise the question: what does a player do after leaving a career in professional sports, especially if they’re not cut out to be a commentator or a coach, which seem to be the routes for many..”

It goes back to my foregoing comments, start at the very beginning like Agassi, Roddick, Courier, et al., and after playing professional sports, they’ll have something else on which to devote their time and energy. Also, they can always return to school and seek a higher education, which can never be a waste of time.

Another thing that really bothers me is his statement that it was fun to watch his 5 and 2 yearolds grow and spend time with them. Hello Pete, do you think that the 5 years you’ve dovoted to parenting was enough? What’s going to happen for the rest of their lives? A parent’s job is never done. That statement speaks volumes and almost gives me the impression that Pete has been afflicted with the proverbial “7 year itch” in his married life. He got maried in 2000. Oh my, another tennis marriage that’s beginning to go awry? Only time will tell.


jane Says:

Von,
“Another thing that really bothers me is his statement that it was fun to watch his 5 and 2 yearolds grow and spend time with them.”

I know!! I had the same reaction but didn’t want to create a feminist backlash (course that’s already happened hasn’t it…) so I didn’t say anything. But exactly! “Hello Pete” Touche! 2 years and 5 years is hardly “grown”!

I am not sure if his “itch” is related to his marriage or not, but if it is, that might have something to do with the fact that his wife’s career in acting is still very much afloat; she’s a character actress who gets regular work with the bigwigs in Hollywood. So, Pete watching his wife working while he’s Mr. Mom (or likely they have a nanny for that) might’ve been a factor?


johnnhoj Says:

I couldn’t say I thought he was uncomfortable with his marriage, since he’s mentioned repeatedly that he’s happy and gets fulfillment from being a husband and father. Pete’s not a very articulate speaker, but he seems to be expressing that there is something else missing in his life (after a limited career as pro athlete) as far as contributing something more concrete to the world beyond his and his family’s four walls. There are married men who will do things like work on old cars in the garage, use their carpentry skills for building projects, or even be art-gallery owners and tennis commentators if they can, like married-with-kids McEnroe. Not everyone can deal psychologically with being cooped up inside the suburbs for the rest of their lives. People need to do things with themselves for the sake of their own sanity. I’m sure Pete’s wife, Brigitte Wilson, is still interested in acting, since she’s her involvement with it after Pete’s retirement (seen ”Shopgirl”?). Besides, Pete’s in a position where he can be there for his family at any time (I’d totally default on a match if my family needed me). The point he’s making is that he’s looking for something better than golf and poker.


johnnhoj Says:

concerning my above statement about Brigitte Wilson, it should instead say:
”…since she’s continued her involvement with acting after Pete’s retirement.”

It’s not so hard to fathom that she supports Pete and Pete supports her.


Von Says:

jane:

“So, Pete watching his wife working while he’s Mr. Mom (or likely they have a nanny for that) might’ve been a factor?”

He’s still hankering for those ‘shades of glory’. One wonders though, when is it ever enough. It seems that he’s been bitten by the Fed bug — wanting it all. What’s next a case of mono? Give it a rest, Pete, there’s only so much one can attain. Stop being an ostrich with your head in the sand — lift it up and you’ll find out that it’s spring and you’re a sprung chicken. :)

It is wise to remember that an exaggerated, competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.


Von Says:

johnnhoj:

“The point he’s making is that he’s looking for something better than golf and poker.”

I can understand that there’s more to life than golf and poker, and I would hope that at his age, that’s the case. But, what I don’t understand why does it have to be competitive tennis for money. It almost gives me the impression that he’s looking for more money, after being enticed by the huge paycheck received from those exhibition matches. His appetite for that kind of gratification has now been whetted and there’s no turning back. Can’t there be gratification and fulfillment in donating his time to helping the underprivileged American youth who want to pursue a tennis career but don’t have the means to do so? Giving of his time for such a cause is phenomenal and the reward is the fulfillment of a youth’s dream. He’s criticized the young American players’ game, why not help them by organizing some type of troubleshooting clinic to sharpen their skills. This can be done several times a year and he’d still be at home, close to his family. That 2 yearold needs his father, so does the 5 yearold, but he had 5 years of papa’s time, while the little one only had 2. I’m sorry but I don’t understand this unfulfilled manhood, of which he speaks. My interpretation of this is I want to spread my wings and make big bucks while doing so, and then, and only then, will I be fulfilled as a man.


johnnhoj Says:

You do what you know and what you love. Pete knows tennis and still loves it, evidently. Now he gets to join the old guys’ club. Is it wrong of J-Mac and Borg to play again? Why can’t a man use his time constructively for any number of chosen endeavors? Give Pete credit for not marrying a succubus.


johnnhoj Says:

Who knows what he does with his money? Maybe he donates to various organizations. He might not have his very own humanitarian-relief foundation, but maybe he takes part in others, maybe he’ll get involved in other ways. Maybe he won’t. Are you concerned that he’s not actively seeking a more public role?


Von Says:

“Give Pete credit for not marrying a succubus.”****This is a whole different situation — one which had not crossed my mind.

“Are you concerned that he’s not actively seeking a more public role?” ***** He is actively seeking a public role — he’s playing for the entertainemnt of the public. But, you’re right, he has to use the tools he’s got, and enjoy what he loves doing. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?


johnnhoj Says:

By th way, Von:
Your suggestions on how he could take a more active role in youth tennis development (especially in the U.S.) and/or other charities are excellent and I agree would be highly constructive and useful programs for the benefit of many. I wouldn’t put it past him to engage in such a role in the future, as soon as he figured out how he’d do it. These things also require significant funding, the more the better. The main problem is his silence, his lack of information disclosure on such issues, which he surely has considered at some point in the wake of many top players’ involvement and successes in these areas.
I’ve forgotten, what was the NetJets Showdown fundraiser for again? Money was raised for something other than their bank accounts, I just can’t remember what.


jane Says:

Johnny Mac and Pete are like different species; personally, while I appreciate Pete’s game, Mac’s got the personality. He’s a renaissance man who would never get bored. He plays rock n’ roll, he’s a very involved father, he’s written a bio (even if it’s not great), he’s had his own talk show (which, I confess, I liked!); he’d NEVER retire to golf and poker. It’s totally not his style.

The exos have wetted Pete’s appetite for his love of tennis, which is fine. And I do think his wife is a fairly good character actress, as I mentioned, and likely Pete may’ve been envious of her apparently fulfilling career while he’s retired at a ridiculously young age.

But the comment about the kids was lame and they will still need him around.


johnnhoj Says:

I like to think that Pete’s gotten sick of the golf and poker routine, and he’s looking toward more constructive areas in which he could lend his time and energy. As to what they are (besides BlackRock), that’s anyone’s guess. He doesn’t seem to like to divulge much info.


jane Says:

“I’ve forgotten, what was the NetJets Showdown fundraiser for again? Money was raised for something other than their bank accounts, I just can’t remember what.”

If you remember johnnhoj I’d be interested in knowing; as far as I know, those exhibitions were straight-up cash grabs – something like a million each per player, which is insane.

Had they been for charity I’d've maybe had a bit more respect/interest in them.

That’s why you have to love someone like Agassi – he’s pretty special in terms of what he gives back and how involved he is in his school; when I saw him on Oprah I was just so impressed.


johnnhoj Says:

Jane,
I found out the NetJets gig apparently raised money for an organization called ”Dream Vaccines Foundation” which is a provider for AIDS and malaria vaccines in Africa. BUT, it was a lame $50,000 check. Compare that to what the players and organizers get and it’s indeed pretty despicable.
We know Roger adds monetary cushioning to his own South African foundation, but Pete’s activities in this area remain a mystery to me. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t see any real reason why I need to continue defending him on anything. I’ll let his own actions do the talking.


johnnhoj Says:

The Sampras-Martin charity match at LSU that I mentioned earlier, which was dubbed ”Duel Under the Oaks” because of the Louisiana connection, was to raise money to aid in the rebuilding of university medical facilities in New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Sampras is a close friend of the charity-match organizer whose name I can’t remember. She said she had asked him if he would help out, so they put together a fundraising tennis match. Pete’s sister was there to support and assist in some capacity prior to the Pete-and-Todd show. They auctioned off court time with Sampras; some guy paid several grand for that. All the tickets to the event were sold.
I think Pete’s done several of these types of events around the country, clearly some low-key stuff. It’s tennis after all.


jane Says:

Thanks for the updates- something’s better than nothing!


Von Says:

johnnhoj:

“I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t see any real reason why I need to continue defending him on anything. I’ll let his own actions do the talking.”

Amen, to that.


Jean-Marc Says:

Pete is only 36 and lost his motivation quite early in his career. He was almost done by 29 when he lost to Federer. No wonder he wants to play competitively again… at 36 it’s still possible to be highly athletic and in great shape, and why not use his potential while he can.

I would love to see Pete doing a special training regimen and get in better shape than he was at 25. Then if he could get wildcards at some ATP events and crush the opposition, that would be an exemplary accomplishment. It has been done in boxing, why not tennis?

In other highly athletic sports, it has been done as well. Take surfing, where you’ve got Kelly Slater at age 36 en route to his 9th world title and showing the surfing world one can still be creative and fit like a gymnast.

We need a Dorian Gray in tennis, but one that shines and win. Please Pete, patch your bolding head, add yoga to your training regimen, get the best trainer, and give your public and the tennis world something they won’t believe.

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