Access Hollywood’s Tony Potts headed to Las Vegas earlier this week to speak with tennis great Andre Agassi, who is opening up as he promotes his new memoir, aptly titled, “Open.”
And in Part I of the interview, Andre spoke about his recent revelations about drug use and the criticism he has received from his closest colleagues and rivals.
“Some of the reaction from your fellow players has been swift and some of it has been pretty brutal. Did that surprise you?” Tony asked.
“Yeah, on some level — the quickness to [it]; the reaction, no,” Andre said. “The disappointment, the confusion --I understand.
“The judgments… Without full context [are a] little bit harder for me to understand,” he continued. “However, with that being said, I allow great margins with this because, you know, it is a shock.”
That shock is about Andre’s admission he used crystal meth in 1997 and it hit his former tennis rival Pete Sampras hard.
“Would I tell him flat out he made a mistake? Absolutely,” Pete told KTBC-TV/FOX 7 in Austin, Texas. “I’d have said, ‘What were you thinking?’ And to lie about it? But when I look at Andre in his mid 20’s to his late 20’s… he was like a different guy.”
But did Andre think Pete’s comments were fair?
“You know, while Pete and I spent a lot of time together, you know, we didn’t really know each other,” Andre told Tony. “I mean, when there wasn’t a net between us, there was a wall between us and his caution in his words is appreciated because he’s probably learning about me now for the first time.”
“Was there ever a time when the drug was in your body and you played high in your career?” Tony asked.
“No, it was an impossibility,” Andre said. “You know, this stuff is destructive… When I tell you can’t play a sport on this I assure you, [you] can’t. You would die with your heart rate [elevated], but beyond that, to even calm down to be able to hit a second serve would be literally impossible.”
Now, 12 years later, Andre and the love of his life, fellow tennis champion and wife, Steffi Graf, have two children.
“What will you say to your kids when they’re old enough to know, about the drug use?” Tony asked.
“Daddy makes mistakes and we all make mistakes,” Andre said. “It’s not the mistakes that are the problem. What we do with it is the turning point. Every moment can be our finest or our darkest.”
And fellow tennis great Martina Navratilova has chastised Andre for a darker moment in “Open” – for lying when he tested positive for drugs.
Martina compared him to accused steroid-user Roger Clemens.
“Did you ever think your name would be uttered in the same sentence as Roger Clemens?” Tony asked.
“You know, I didn’t,” Andre said. “It’s not something you…want to hear… But, you know, let’s be clear about the fact that this is a performance inhibitor. This is me not cheating the game, this is me hurting myself. That drug destroys you from the inside out.”