NEW YORK (March 28, 2007) — The memoir of tennis sensation, gossip column favorite and philanthropist Andre Agassi, a book strongly desired by numerous publishers, has been acquired by Alfred A. Knopf.
Financial terms were not disclosed Wednesday, although bidding reportedly topped $5 million as publishers flew out to see Agassi at his hometown of Las Vegas, touring his Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a charter school for at-risk youth, and then meeting with him at his office.
David Hirshey, senior vice president and executive editor at HarperCollins, one of the publishers that competed for the book, said the deal was more in line with what a former U.S. president would get.
“This is White House money,” Hirshey said. “I can’t remember the last time a sports figure got more than two million.”
The 36-year-old Agassi, one of the greatest players of his generation, retired after last fall’s U.S. Open.
His book is not yet titled and no release date has been set.
“I recently had the privilege of meeting with top executives and editors from eight publishing houses,” Agassi said in a statement released Wednesday by Knopf. “Everyone was very impressive, but in the end, I felt the strongest connection with (Knopf head) Sonny Mehta and his colleagues at Knopf.”
“Andre Agassi is one of the world’s most popular and admired figures,” Mehta said in a statement. “He has lived an extraordinary life, and he has a great story to tell — an inspiring story of determination, competition, and what it takes to become one of the greatest athletes of our time. Additionally, he is someone who has chosen to use his success as an instrument for change in the world.”
In his early years on the tour, Agassi was known for his tennis, togs and ‘tude, especially for his brief marriage to Brooke Shields, his friendship with Barbra Streisand and his “Image Is Everything” ad campaign, a slogan from which he later distanced himself. Agassi is now married to fellow tennis star Steffi Graf.
He was the game’s top-ranked male player for months in 1995, but then faltered so badly that he dropped out of the top 100 and resorted to playing in tennis’ minor leagues. Thanks to rigorous training, he bounced back, soaring into the top 10 in 1998 and enjoying a yearlong reign on top in 1999-2000. He has won all four “Grand Slam” singles events: The French Open, the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
In 1994, he founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation (AACF), “created to provide recreational and educational opportunities for at-risk children in Southern Nevada.” The Agassi academy opened in 2001.
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