Pete Sampras is a retired professional tennis player who dominated the sport all through the 1990s. The American star has been hailed as the best tennis player in history, although he is overlooked in recent times with the emergence of stars like Roger Federer, who broke the former’s record of becoming the first man to win 14 Grand Slam titles.
With the records set by Pistol (Sampras) broken by Federer and that of the latter already set to be broken by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as predicted by Roger, here is a look at the career of Pete, as well as his personal life.
How Did Pete Sampras Begin His Career in Tennis?
The career path of Sampras was paved when he was still a child after he discovered a tennis racket in the basement of their home. He spent time, striking the ball against the wall and that’s his marriage to the game that would land him fame and fortune. In 1978, at the age of seven, his family moved to California, which had a warmer climate that their mother was used to and that would allow their son train to play professional tennis all year long.
More than this, he was spotted by tennis enthusiast Peter Fischer, who began to give him coaching lessons. Fischer focused mostly on the mental part of tennis as he was an awful player himself with no coaching experience. However, under the stewardship of Fisher, Sampras’ game immensely improved as he rose to actively compete on the American junior circuit. Fisher was responsible for converting his double-handed backhand to single-hand as Sampras with his natural ability, maintained a strong and accurate forehand with a service that went well over 100 mph.
By 1987, Sampras’ talent was evident for everyone to see. He was selected to play on the United States Junior Davis Cup team. Later that year, he beat top-seeded Michael Chang at the U.S. Open Junior Championships, prompting him to go full pro and join the ATP Tour in 1988. He ended his first year on the tour with a ranking in the Top 100.
His Continued Success and Achievements
In 1990, he got his first taste of success by winning the U.S. Open. The 19-year-old became the tournament’s youngest-ever champion as he defeated legendary players such as Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe on his way to the final. The final match of the tournament was against his longtime rival from the junior circuit, Andre Agassi, who didn’t make it much of a contest as he was beaten in straight sets.
Having achieved huge success so early, Pete Sampras had a hard time living up to expectation. He also had a bullseye on his back with every player focusing on him. It took him three years to taste major success again, this time at Wimbledon in 1993, where he defeated his friend Jim Courier. That same year, he won the U.S. Open for the second time and then, later on, the Australian Open.
Pete Sampras went on to dominate the tennis sport throughout the ’90s. He was named ATP Player of the Year from 1993 to 1998, even though he was not much of a fan favorite. By 2000, he eclipsed Roy Emerson as the sports’ greatest winner with his 13th major title. The 14th title came in 2002 following a dramatic final at the U.S. Open against longtime foe Agassi. That final was the last official tennis match of his career and made him the oldest winner of an Open Championship at age 31.
In his career, he won the Australian Open twice in 1994 and 1997. He also won the Wimbledon from 1993 to 1995 and then from 1997 to 2000. In 1990, he won the US Open and then, in 1993, 1995, and 1996. His last major trophy was won in 2002 when he clinched the US open. In total, he won 14 titles from 1990 to 2002. Unfortunately, he does not have a French Open to his name. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
Despite all his achievements, Pete Sampras is now overlooked among the greatest tennis players of all time. This is mostly true when one is considering people like Nadal, Djokovic, and Roger. While Roger has won 19 championships in total, including one French Open, Rafael Nadal has also registered the same number of championships, while Novak Djokovic has won 16 major tournaments. This means that all of them have gone above the achievements of Pete.
Career Earnings and Net Worth
By the time the curtain was drawn on his career in 2002, Sampras had already made more than $43.2 million in prize money. His prize-winning has been dwarfed by what Federer ($129 million), Nadal ($120 million), and Djokovic ($140 million) have all won, and they are not done yet!
Currently, Pete Sampras is estimated to be worth a staggering $150 million. He accumulated this all through his 14-year long career at the top of tennis, having participated and won prestigious events like the Australian and Wimbledon tournaments.
It is then no surprise that Sampras now lives a very luxurious lifestyle with a collection of Porshe cars and a mansion in the Lake Sherwood area of Ventura County, California. Pete also does a lot of charity work. He is a member of the American Cancer Awareness Society, Aces for Charity, and a benefactor of Vitas Gerulaitis Youth Foundation and Kids’ Stuff Foundation.
Who are His Wife and Children?
Pete Sampras is a married man. He got hitched to Bridgette Wilson, a former Miss Teen USA winner turned actress, singer, and model on September 30, 2000.
The two met in 1999 when he spotted the beauty at a cinema in Los Angeles and told his friend he would like to meet her. His friend would soon get her number from a mutual friend and that started it for the two. At the time, the model was yet to know who he was. Nine months after they started dating, the two got engaged and then 16 weeks later, they became man and wife.
More than two decades later, Bridgette Wilson and Pete Sampras are still very much together. Their union is blessed with four kids; Christian Charles Sampras, born on the 21st of November 2002, and Ryan Nikolaos Sampras, born on the 29th of July, 2005.
Although the older of the brothers have stayed away from the public life, Ryan Sampras has the hope of becoming just like his father or even better as his eyes are set on becoming a professional tennis player. He has already started playing junior tennis.