Pete Sampras is a retired professional tennis player who dominated the sport throughout the 1990s. The American was hailed as the best tennis player in history. He earned this title by becoming the first man to win 14 Grand Slam titles, a record that was broken by Roger Federer in 2009.
But despite this dominance, the seven-time Wimbledon, five-time US Open, and two-time Australian Open champion failed to win a French Open title. Winning such a title would certainly have placed him above anyone else in the sport.
Sampras was born on August 12, 1971, in Washington, D.C., the third child of Soterios and Georgia Sampras as Petros Sampras. Soterios, better known as Sammy, was born in the USA as the son of a Greek father and a Polish Jewish mother, while Georgia emigrated from Greece to the USA at the age of 25. His father worked as an aerospace engineer for the Ministry of Defence and was also co-owner of a delicatessen, while his mother worked as a beautician in a local salon.
The Sampras family ensured that their children were taught and educated in accordance with Greek culture. They regularly attended services in the Greek Orthodox Church on Sundays and usually ate Greek food.
As Sampras grew up, he was not encouraged to play sports. His love of tennis came after he discovered a tennis racket in the basement of their house, which he used to hit the ball against the wall for hours. In 1978, at the age of seven, his family moved to California, where there was a warmer climate to which the mother was accustomed and which allowed the son to practice professional tennis all year round.
Shortly after moving to California, Sampras was discovered by tennis enthusiast Peter Fischer, who began giving him coaching lessons. Fischer concentrated mainly on the mental part of the tennis game, as he himself was a terrible player and had no experience as a coach.
Under Fischer’s guidance, however, Sampras’ game improved immensely when he moved up to play actively on the American junior tennis court. Fisher was responsible for transforming his two-handed backhand into a one-handed one as Sampras used his natural ability to maintain a strong and precise forehand with a service well over 100 mph.
Already in 1987, the talent of Sampras was visible for everyone. He was selected to play in the Junior Davis Cup team of the United States. Later that year, he beat top-seeded Michael Chang at the U.S. Open Junior Championships, which led him to become a fully professional and join the ATP Tour in 1988. He finished his first year on the tour with a top 100 finish.
In 1990 he got his first taste of success when he won the U.S. Open. The 19-year-old became the tournament’s youngest champion of all time, defeating legendary players like Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe on his way to the final. In the final match of the tournament, he faced his long time rival from the junior section, Andre Agassi, who did not make it very exciting as he was beaten in straight sets.
After Pete Sampras had scored a big success so early on, he found it difficult to live up to expectations. He also had a target on his back and every player was focused on him. It took him three years to achieve great success again, this time in 1993 at Wimbledon, where he defeated his friend Jim Courier. That same year, he won the U.S. Open for the second time and later the Australian Open.
Pete Sampras dominated the tennis sport in the 90s. From 1993 to 1998 he was named ATP Player of the Year, although he was not a big fan favorite. In 2000, he eclipsed Roy Emerson as the sport’s biggest winner with his 13th major title. The 14th title came in 2002 after a dramatic final at the U.S. Open against long-time opponent Agassi. This final was the last official tennis match of his career and made him the oldest winner of an Open Championship at the age of 31.
In 2007 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Pete Sampras’ Family – Wife, Kids
Pete Sampras is married to Bridgette Wilson, a former Miss Teen USA winner who became an actress, singer, and model. The couple married on September 30, 2000, and have two sons: Christian Charles Sampras, born on November 21, 2002, and Ryan Nikolaos Sampras, born on July 29, 2005.
The value of Pete Sampras is estimated at an astonishing $150 million. This is the sum he has accumulated during his 14-year career at the top of the tennis game, having participated in and won prestigious events such as the Australian and Wimbledon tournaments.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Sampras now leads a very luxurious lifestyle with a collection of Porshe cars and a mansion in the Lake Sherwood area of Ventura County, California. Pete also does a lot of charity work. He is a member of the American Cancer Awareness Society, Aces for Charity, and a benefactor of the Vitas Gerulaitis Youth Foundation and the Kids’ Stuff Foundation.
Height, Weight and Other Facts
Birth Name: Petros Sampras
Date of Birth: August 12, 1971
Birth Place: Washington, D.C., U.S.
Occupation: Professional Tennis Player (Retired)
Height: 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m)
Weight: 170 lbs (77 kg )
Marital Status: Married (Bridgette Wilson)
Nationality: United States
Ethnicity: Greek, Jewish