| Sampras: ‘Marriage has given me a lot of happiness’
New York: Pete Sampras no longer takes his satisfaction from a tennis scoreboard. And he could not be happier, even if his days of dominating on the court are giving way to changing diapers.
The 31-year-old American, winner of a record 13 Grand Slam singles titles, beat Spain’s Albert Portas 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday in the first round of the US Open. Sampras has not won a title since capturing his record-setting 13th at Wimbledon in 2000.
“After the 13th major, something definitely came out of me a little bit,” Sampras said. “Week in and week out, I just don’t think I can dominate. It takes a lot out of you to be No.1.
“But I can still win a major. I have the game that can get hot. I still have that passion within me to win a major.”
But now the burning passion of his life is Bridgette Wilson, the actress Sampras married in 2000. The couple is expecting their first child later this year.
“That’s what life is all about, marrying the woman of your dreams and having kids, having a great career. I feel like I have done that. Tennis is a big focus but it’s not as consuming as it once was. I was so focused for so long that I just kind of had enough of being No. 1. Just too much pressure.
“Being married has given me a lot of happiness, given me a good balance out there. Tennis is still a big part of my life but it’s not what it used to be.
“I used to live and die with my wins and losses. I still get disappointed and frustrated. But when I hit 30, 31, there’s more to life than tennis. That being said, I’m still here. I still want to do well. That bar is set pretty high.”
Sampras still hopes to add to his haul of seven Wimbledon titles, four US Open crowns and two Australian Open championships. He will play a full schedule next year and then evaluate his future.
Sampras has answered the challenge of rival Andre Agassi, who teased that his son Jaden will be a year older than Sampras’ child and dominate their possible rivalry 20 years from now.
“He has got no shot,” Sampras said. “In 19, 20 years, my kid, if he is a boy, will dominate. He has got pretty good genes on his side, doesn’t he'”
Saying he has nothing to prove thanks to past success, Sampras still admits being frustrated at being unable to win any ATP event after dominating Grand Slams for so long.
“That has been the most frustrating part at this point,” Sampras said. “It has been a pretty disappointing year. I’m still putting a lot of work into it. I have nothing to show for it.
“I can’t dwell on that at the moment. I have to look at the future not the past. I just have to believe in myself and hope I can do well here.”