Andre considered quitting again. He visited his best friend, Rogers, at the University of Arizona law school. "Do you like tennis?" Rogers asked.
"I don't know," Agassi replied.
He decided that the first step toward finding peace was emancipation from Mike. When Mike pushed, Andre snarled, "I've had enough." When Mike offered suggestions, Andre snapped, "Why should I listen to you?" Up to that point he had lived at home. Two months after the 1991 Open loss, Andre moved into a house of his own.
Eight months later, in July 1992, he won Wimbledon, defeating Goran Ivanisevic in a gutsy five-set final that sent him home with the grandest trophy of them all. Mike's reaction? "He told me how I lost the fourth set," Andre says.
"O.K.," Mike says, "he took that the wrong way." Betty, sitting at the kitchen table, gently chides her husband. "He came home looking for a pat on the back," she says.
Andre's career reached its low point in 1993 when, suffering from painful scar tissue in his right wrist, he played only 14 tournaments and underwent surgery. He gained eight pounds, fell out of the Top 20 then got a letter from Bollettieri, who had been like another parent to Andre, severing their ties. It seemed that both of his fathers had predicated their love on tennis victories. "It was like gambling," Agassi says. "It hurts more to lose $100 than it feels good to win $100. I'd win, and it didn't feel worth it. Certain things became the enemy. Like the game itself."
Wounded physically and emotionally, Agassi decided to enter psychotherapy while he was rehabilitating his wrist. He found a therapist in Las Vegas and spent eight months digging through his childhood, his tennis and his relationship with his father. In therapy Agassi realized that when Mike pushed him it was Mike's way of showing love. "I came to terms with my tennis and my childhood and my dad, and it just released me," he says. "When you finally get a little objectivity, you don't take it so personally."
If Andre hasn't completely worked through the father-son relationship, he has learned to work around it. When he saw the movie Shadowlands, which is about English author C.S. Lewis's emotional awakening, he was struck by the line, "The pain then is part of the happiness now." So now Andre listens to Mike's advice but doesn't strain so much for something his father can't give. Andre says his effort to satisfy Mike has "never been enough, and it's always been enough." For his part, Mike has learned that, to stay on good terms with his son, he has to stop interfering.
Asked if he is content with his son's career, Mike nods. Then he adds, "He's 24. He could be a senator by now."
On the night of Jan. 30, during a performance of the Broadway revival of Grease, the discerning listener may have heard something odd as the cast launched into the spirited climax of the theme song. These phrases drifted out over the audience: "Rama-lama-lama beat Sampras.... Dip-de-dip-de-dip straight sets."