The tennis superstar and best-selling author talks about fatherhood and bad hairstyles
Mon Aug 23 2010
Do you enjoy playing tennis more now that you’re retired?
I enjoyed it at the end of my career. I enjoy hitting the ball. I don’t enjoy all that running and moving. I don’t enjoy not being as good.
How are the kids?
Dr. Frankenstein couldn’t have put together better parts for a fantastic tennis-playing monster—your wife (Steffi Graf) is known for her forehand and you’re the best returner to play the game. Will you be disappointed if one of your children decides to be a veterinarian?
No, we’d be disappointed if they became a tennis player. We both know that road so intimately. Tennis is just one way to discover who you are.
Do you and your wife ever resolve your disputes on the court?
No, if there’s any potential disagreements, we discuss it rationally. She’s a gift in my life.
Good answer. We’re going to ask an Inside the Actor’s Studio-style question: If you didn’t play tennis professionally, what would you have done?
For me education is the biggest thing for a child. I didn’t have it as a child, and life without education is a life without choice. I would’ve chosen an education.
Fair enough. You are still the last American to win the Aussie and French Open. Why do Americans suck at tennis?
We’ve got a standard that’s pretty damn high: [Andy] Roddick was the number one player in the world. There’s Sam Querrey. It’s such a global sport and it’s so competitive.
You’re one of the most charismatic American athletes—even when you had a mullet. How did you pull that off?
In my case, I literally just pulled it off. Sometimes it’s better not to have options. And not have hair. You express yourself differently. What better way to hide who you are than to have a mullet?
You’re known for your charity work with children. To raise awareness, what would you say to the kids out there that are experimenting with hairstyles and thinking about the mullet?
I would not recommend it. Because I’m faced with the evidence of those pictures.
Our kindergarten teacher once said to say three nice things for every bad thing you say about someone. Can you say three nice things about Pete Sampras?
Phenomenal talent, phenomenal focus, and [he’s] loyal.