Pete Sampras, affectionately known to tennis fans as Pistol Pete and The King of Swing, was born on August 12, 1971 in Washington D.C. to Greek parents. Sampras began playing tennis as a small kid although his talent for the sport only attracted attention when he and his family joined the Jack Kramer tennis club. After competing in the junior circuit the young Sampras was selected to join the US Junior Davis Cup team and later in the year was able to defeat Michael Chang at the US Open Junior championships.
Sampras joined the ATP in 1988, now sporting a good backhand as well as a strong and accurate forehand. He ended the season inside the top 100 and reached the 81st spot in the world rankings in 1989.
Sampras got his first ATP title in February of 1990 against Andres Gomez. After a disappointing first round at Wimbledon against Christo Van Rensburg, Sampras rebounded by rising to number 12 in the rankings. He went on to defeat then top-ranked player Ivan Lendl and advanced to the semi-finals, beating another legend, John McEnroe in order to advance to the finals against Andre Agassi. His win against Agassi, at 6-4, 6-3, and 6-2, made Sampras, only 19, the youngest champion in US Open history. This win also catapulted the young athlete to sport superstardom which he would later admit in interviews as something that he never got used to.
From 1993 to 1998 he ended each year as the top-ranked player in the world. During his long career Sampras has won a total of 64 singles titles, among them 14 Grand Slam titles. Although he has never won the French Open, he has won seven times in Wimbledon, five times in the US Open and twice in the Australian Open.
Pistol Pete officially retired in 2003, although he continues to play at exhibition matches, the most recent of which was on March 10, 2008 at the Madison Square Garden against Federer.
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