If you have been following the unraveling of Andre Agassi, one of our tennis greats, there is no doubt you have an opinion. If you haven’t been following, let me share the background of the story.
Andre Agassi, eight-time grand slam tennis champion. Philanthropist. All around nice guy. Married to another tennis prodigy, Steffi Graf. Kids. Smiles. A great story of a triumphant comeback. The whole squeaky clean image.
Until now. Andre Agassi’s autobiography reveals his admission to using crystal meth in the nineties, and subsequently lying about it after he failed a drug test. But get this; after testing positive for the substance, Agassi wrote to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) that it was all a mistake, and he had accidentally drank his assistant Skip’s “spiked” soda. And boy, they believed it! The case was thrown out.
And now someone is really pissed. Other tennis legend, Martina Navratilova has A LOT to say about this case. And you gotta admit, the woman has a point. “Shocking” Navratilova said in a phone interview last week from Sarasota, Florida. “Not as much shock that he did it as shock he lied about it and didn’t own up to it. Andre lied and got away with it,” Navratilova said. “You can’t correct that now. Do you take away a title he wouldn’t have won if he had been suspended? He beat some people when he should have been suspended.” She seems clearly disappointed.
Martina Navratilova won a record 167 singles titles including 18 Grand Slam tennis tournaments. She retired from singles tennis in 1994 and played her last doubles match in 2006. Most commonly known for being one of the first openly gay professional tennis players, and for also being very outspoken on the courts, she is now known for her big voice on this recent issue.
“I was actually excited about telling the world the whole story. The book lives up to the title. It’s my life, for better or worse. Get ready, buckle up, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times,” Agassi says about his book, out in stores this week.
And so the question is, why confess now? Some critics feel Agassi’s disclosure came just in time to sell books. Mackenzie Phillips has been criticized for the same reason (for disclosing the incestuous affair between her and her father, music legend John Phillips of the Mamas and The Papas, right around the same time as her book release). Others feel it was reflective and very brave of Agassi to come clean with this, even though it clearly would diminish this Hall-Of-Famer’s legacy.
The other question I would like you to ponder is, does Navratilova have the right to judge him? Do we have the right to judge any human being for that matter? After all, he didn’t kill, he didn’t rob, he didn’t steal. What he did was wrong, there is no doubt. But he has done some incredibly good things for humanity. What about the frailty of the human condition? Taken right from Wikipedia, “Agassi has participated in many charity organizations and founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Association in 1994, which assists Las Vegas’ young people. Agassi was awarded the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award in 1995 for his efforts to help disadvantaged youth. He is regularly cited as the most charitable and socially involved player in professional tennis. It has also been surmised that he may be the most charitable athlete of his generation, which includes Lance Armstrong.”
So I ask you, why do you think a retired Agassi confessed now? Did he need to get the truth off his chest to set him free, or is he looking to sell books? And does tennis legend, Martina Navratilova have the right to judge him? What’s your take?