Pete Sampras is a retired professional tennis player who dominated the sport all through the 1990’s. The American has been hailed as the best tennis player in history. He earned that title by being the first man to win 14 Grand Slam titles, a record that was broken by Roger Federer in 2009.
However, despite such dominance, the seven-time Wimbledon, five-time US Open, and two-time Australian Open champion could not manage to bag a French Open title. Winning one would have definitely set him head and shoulders above any other person in the sport.
Sampras was born Petros Sampras on August 12, 1971, in Washington, D.C., as the third child to Soterios and Georgia Sampras. Soterios, better known as Sammy, was born to a Greek father and a Polish Jewish mother in the U.S. while Georgia emigrated to the U.S. from Greece at the age of 25. His father worked as an aerospace engineer for the Department of Defense and was also a co-owner of a deli while his mother worked as a beautician at a local salon.
The Sampras family made sure to teach and raise their children in accordance with the greek culture. They attended regular services at the Greek Orthodox Church on Sundays and would usually go out of their way to eat greek food.
While growing up, Sampras was not outrightly encouraged to take up sports. His love for tennis came after he discovered a tennis racket in the basement of their home, leading him to spend hours hitting the ball against the wall. 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.
Shortly after moving to California, Sampras 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 serve that went well over 100mph.
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.
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.
He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
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.
Pete Sampras’ Family – Wife, Kids
Pete Sampras is married to Bridgette Wilson, a former Miss Teen USA winner turned actress, singer, and model. The couple got married on September 30, 2000, and have two sons; Christian Charles Sampras, born on the 21st of November 2002, and Ryan Nikolaos Sampras, born on the 29th of July, 2005.
Height, Weight and Other Facts
Birth Name: Petros Sampras
Date of Birth: August 12, 1971
Birth Place: Washington, D.C., U.S.
Occupation: Professional Tennis Player (Retired)
Height: 6 feet 1 inches (1.85 m)
Weight: 170 lbs (77 kg )
Marital Status: Married (Bridgette Wilson)
Nationality: United States
Ethnicity: Greek, Jewish