JH: You call a time in 1995 as your "Summer of Revenge" against Boris Becker. [At Wimbledon that year, Becker accused Agassi of getting special treatment and being reclusive]. You succeeded by beating him in the semis at the U.S. Open. You're on this emotional high, but then you lose in the final to Pete Sampras and feel devastated. Was that the event that triggered the start of the serious depression?
AA: That summer, I tried to use all this energy and emotion, channel it into anger and tried to use that. I actually resented that feeling even though it was successful. It just wasn't me; it wasn't my spirit. Then I get to the final of the U.S. Open, I'm 26-0, I lose to Pete. I kind of conclude you can win 26 matches, lose one and still feel like a loser. It just heightens the point of pointlessness. It made me think: "I've never liked this, now I like it less. Why am I doing this? I'm miserable for it." That started my disengagement. I kind of sleepwalked through the next year. I won some titles. I got up for the Olympics in 1996 because I needed some inspiration, and inspiration was easy there. I felt like I was doing it for my father, a bigger team being from the United States. But I really sleepwalked through the rest of that year. Then when I hit 1997, everything just started to spiral quickly.
JH: How did you reconcile with crossing that line into the drug use? Did you believe you had an addiction?
AA: You cross the line because you wake up and you're disengaged with your friends and even your wife. You're depressed and you don't know it. Nobody talks about depression. Somebody came along and offered me an escape. I didn't like tennis, and I liked myself even less. I just basically said, "Why not?" It was convenient, and I don't think you understand what you're doing. It takes along time to realize that you do have an addiction, so I can't speak to whether or not I had an addiction or not. I did turn my back on it and walk toward a life I wanted a number of months later. I just think it's easy to underestimate the reality of how drugs tempt you. I think I wanted to deal with the truth that they do appear to offer you something. Depression is a serious thing. Two out of three people in this world have at least one bout of depression in their life.
Embracing the chance to own his choices