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FAMOUS GREEKS - Greek celebrities

Sampras, Pete

Born: 1971

Tennis player
Born in Washington DC, US

Sampras was the third son of Greek immigrants, Sam and Georgia Sampras. From an early age, Pete showed signs of outstanding athletic ability. The young Pete discovered a tennis racquet in the basement and spent hours hitting balls against the wall. In 1978, the Sampras family moved to Palos Verdes, California, and the warmer climate there allowed seven-year-old Pete to play more tennis. The Sampras family joined the Peninsula Racquet Club, where they played a great deal of tennis together. It was here that Pete's ability became apparent. At the age of 11 he had already learned the solid serve and volley tactic that has become the hallmark of his game.

On September 30, 2001, Sampras married American actress Bridgette Wilson.

Sampras has thalassemia minor, a mild form of an inherited disease that causes anemia. Sampras' older sister Stella is head coach at UCLA and his younger sister, Marion, is a teacher in Los Angeles. His older brother, Gus, is tournament director at Scottsdale ATP event.

Sampras's pro career began in 1988 at the age of 16. His first victory in a Grand Slam tournament came at the US Open in 1990, when he defeated, among others, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, and in the final, an up-and-coming young player named Andre Agassi. At only 19 years 28 days, Pete Sampras was the youngest tennis player ever to win the US Open Men's title. The rivalry between Agassi and Sampras lasted throughout the 1990s. Sampras dominated Wimbledon for much of the 1990s, taking the title there in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. In 1991 Pete won the IBM World Championship and in 1992 played on the team that won the Davis Cup. Pete set a new ATP Tour record in 1993 when he became the first player to serve over 1000 aces in a season. He has been very successful at Queen's Club.

Whereas the grass courts of Wimbledon played to Sampras's strengths, his only real weakness was on clay, where the slow surface tended to negate his natural attacking serve-and-volley game, and he never progressed beyond the semi-final stage at the French Open. His businesslike attitude during play and cautious handling of the press led critics to bemoan his lack of charisma, but his natural talent and work ethic meant that Sampras was always able to let his results speak for themselves.

He was known for his good all-round game and a strong competitive instinct. He holds the record for the most wins in Grand Slam men's singles events, having won a total of 14 (7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open, and 2 Australian Open). Sampras led the world tennis rankings for six consecutive years, from 1993 to 1998. After a period of time during which he, by his own admission, lacked the drive and hunger needed to remain at the top, Sampras officially retired on August 25, 2003.


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