KOCHI: Flamboyant former World No 1 Tennis player Andre Agassi Friday said he was forced into the game which he hated but emerged as the top player.
“I just happened to be good at the sport which I completely hated,” Agassi said in conversation with Indian tennis icon Vijay Amritaraj atthe IAA-World-Congress here.
“Unlike Vijay who started playing tennis because of passion since childhood, I, on the other hand, was forced into the game. Being the youngest son, my siblings weren’t doing well in the game so I didn’t have a choice.
I was disconnected with it and hated it, but went on to top it,” an International Advertising Association (IAA) release quoted him as saying.
Agassi said he was forced to play tennis. “It was not a choice. My father saw this as a fastest road to live the American dream…,” he said.
Speaking on retirement, he said “if you are playing professional sports, you dont know what to do with the rest of your life after you stop playing.
My life while playing was about building my philanthropy venture in education and scale that across geography and putting a business model to make it happen by using technology.”
Agassi said this had been his pursuit all his life and tennis gave him a platform and he was leaving it.
“I was saying goodbye to something which has been and will be part of my life throughout,” he said.
About his wife and tennis great Steffi Graf, Agassi said “Steffi Graf is difficult to play tennis with, as most importantthing you learn in tennis is to watch the ball and when you are playing with Steffi you dont watch the ball much.”
Sharing his perspective on India, he said this was his fifth visit to India and first trip outside Mumbai and before he came to India he was warned about “sensory overload between the difference in rich and poor.”
“This was hard at first. Later I started to get used to it and I feel it is not the disparity of wealth it is disparity of hope… it is disparity of hope that we all have to address.
I am proud to be in India and in a small way trying to bridge that gap (through my education foundation in Mumbai),” he said.
The International Advertising Association (IAA) a global organisation inaugurated its first ever World Congress in India in Kochi in grand style on February 20.
The three-day event, which concluded here Friday, was attended by an eclectic mix of thought leaders, spiritual gurus, entertainers, domain experts and industry professionals.
Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar were present for the inauguration ceremony. PTI