JH: By the end of that year, your friend and coach at the time, Brad Gilbert, offered you a "quit or start over deal." Why did you make the choice to continue with tennis despite it being something that has pained you your entire life?

AA: I was at my lowest point, had never hated tennis more, and I thought I was about to walk away. It was something really strange that hit me like an epiphany. I'm looking out the window of my hotel, and I see all these people in traffic in Stuttgart, Germany, and I was wondering how many of them are going to a job they hate and have found reasons or need to find reasons. I don't need to play tennis—I have everything I need—but what if for the first time in my life I actually chose it? What if I tried to find new meanings to old tasks and changed my attitude? If you change attitude and change meaning, you set powerful forces in motion. Sure enough, I started to get traction in my life as a result of that. All of a sudden, tennis gave me my school, it gave me my wife [Steffi Graf]. I started to feel like the scales got balanced. But it was a fight every day from that epiphany.

JH: When you told people you hated tennis, they'd always respond, "You don't really hate it, hate it." The only person that seemed to understand how you felt right off the bat was your now-wife. What was it about her that pulled you in from the beginning?

AA: It was something from the outside—I think it's one of the things people do. They gravitate toward people that have something they don't have. I've always gravitated toward people like that in my life. I looked at Stefanie and saw someone who dealt with the same pressures that I did in many respects from the outside, and she did it with an unspeakable grace. She was so understated and seemed to be a lot better at life than I was. She seemed to be everything I wished that I was. When I told her I hated tennis she basically said, "Don't we all?" Of course there are things to hate. Somehow that wasn't the point. She found a way to push through, find the joy in it—things that it can give and to find ways to connect to it. It inspired me. And there was no push back on I shouldn't, it was just: "Of course. Now let's talk about what really matters."

Andre's love for family, education and even life on the court


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