Serving up Hope: Tennis Star Andre Agassi Opens Up To Haute Living

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Tennis legend Andre Agassi is not going quietly into retirement. Instead, the famed player continues to exert the same passion into his second act as a philanthropist as he always did into his tennis career.
And it’s some act to top. With eight Grand Slam titles, 60 men’s singles titles and an Olympic gold medal, Agassi is widely considered to be one of the best tennis players of all time.

 “I realized that the only way to really change a life was to give the tools of hope, the tools of education, because with education, there is hope,” Agassi said.

For nearly two decades, Agassi, a Nevada native, has made it his mission to help underserved children attain higher education. Moved by the bleak opportunities for youth in his hometown of Las Vegas, Agassi created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education in 1994.
“I started helping children because I felt bad for [those] that didn’t have opportunities or didn’t have a life that they could choose for themselves,” Agassi said.
The foundation’s goal of transforming public education is fulfilled through many avenues. In addition to fundraisers like the Grand Slam for Children, funding for important programs like the After-School All-Stars and Communities in Schools, to the formation of new programs like Athletes for Hope, the foundation’s reach is wide.
The foundation has also opened several permanent fixtures to help aid in its mission, such as the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club, the Agassi Center for Education, the Agassi Cottage at Child Haven and the Teen Center at the Agassi Boys & Girls Club in 2001. The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy was another major development. Founded in 2001 in West Las Vegas, the charter school has expanded each year and is now a K-12 school. The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education raised funds to contribute to the construction of the $40 million charter school, which is in one of Las Vegas’ most economically challenged areas.
“I realized that the only way to really change a life was to give the tools of hope, the tools of education, because with education, there is hope,” Agassi said. “With education, you can have a future of your choosing. I wanted to bring resources and money to the table so that these children could have a quality education. I wanted to give to children that society says has no chance.”
Since the school’s founding more than a decade ago, it has received various honors, including a 2005 “Exemplary” ranking for the middle school– the only middle school in Clark County to achieve this. In 2007, the elementary school joined it, earning its own “Exemplary” rating. The first class of Agassi Prep graduated in 2009, the same year the elementary and middle schools at Agassi Prep earned a “High Achieving” ranking.
Agassi, exhibiting superior talent on the tennis court early in life, dropped out of school in the ninth grade to play tennis full time. At age 16, he turned pro. “To get into education has surprised me, because who would have thought that a ninth grade dropout would ever build a school, let alone hopefully build hundreds?” Agassi said.
In the wake of his 2006 retirement, Agassi decided to take it a step further, partnering with luxury Swiss watchmaker Longines, a company that also has a long history of giving back. Agassi, a Longines Ambassador of Elegance, and the luxury timepiece maker united forces in the effort to bridge the achievement gap once and for all.
“Longines has been such a fantastic partner,” Agassi said. “They know how passionate I am about [the cause.] They’ve delighted me in the creativity [with which] they’ve raised resources and awareness to the importance of the mission.”
The latest of such philanthropic efforts occurred Nov. 30, 2011 when Agassi teamed up with Longines and fine jeweler Shreve & Co. for a three-part series of events designed to raise awareness of the importance of education.
The first-ever fast serve contest was held at Shreve & Co. in Palo Alto’s Stanford Shopping Center, where 20 top ranked female junior players from the United States Tennis Association’s Northern California division served for a trip to New York to compete in the Longines Future Tennis Aces competition. The winner will travel to Paris to compete in the French Open, a tournament on the courts of Roland Garros. The two finalists of the tournament in Paris will win the opportunity to rally with world-champion tennis star Stefanie Graf, who is also a Longines Ambassador–and Agassi’s wife.
Proceeds went to the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, benefiting the Longines Elegance Scholarship Fund. Founded in 2008, the fund has awarded scholarships to 16 students to fund their higher education.
“This is a great way to celebrate the sport,” Agassi said of the successful event. “It’s a great way to celebrate Longines and their commitment to children and education.”

 “Giving back to the community was a given for me,” he said. “The question was how much I would be able to give back.”

Also at the event, guests viewed the special edition Longines Master Collection Moon Phase “Andre Agassi” watch on display at Shreve & Co. With only eight watches made, this exclusive timepiece is a tribute to the eight Grand Slam titles Agassi won. Longines and Shreve & Co. will donate 100 percent of the $18,000 retail sale of each watch to the Longines Elegance Scholarship Fund.
The festivities continued into the evening when Longines and Shreve & Co. hosted a private dinner at the Villa Taverna in downtown San Francisco. Agassi mingled with guests and spoke about his foundation’s plans for expansion across the country. “My mission has taken on a bigger national platform,” Agassi said. “We’re starting to build schools across the country and affect tens to hundreds of thousands of more lives. We’ve greenlighted ten schools that will be open next August.
We’ll open about 75 more over the next three years.” The success of his first charter school is phenomenal– 100 percent of the school’s graduates have moved on to college.
Today, Agassi enjoys life with his wife, Stefanie, and their two children, Jaden and Jaz. Although he is now settled in Las Vegas, he reflects on his time as a Marin County resident from 2000 to 2005. “I fell in love with the whole experience of family life in Tiburon, and I am grateful for that period in my life,” Agassi said. “As of now, I look back with fond memories, and look forward to coming back as often as possible.”
And as far as his foundation, Agassi is solely dedicated to the cause.
“Giving back to the community was a given for me,” he said. “The question was how much I would be able to give back.”
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