Sampras’ love-hate Wimbledon relationship
By Paul Gittings, CNN
Wimbledon holds a special place in the tennis calendar, an elegant tournament rich with tradition, style and sporting majesty.
The modern era of the men’s game there has been defined by the legacy of Pete Sampras, who won a record seven titles in eight years.
However, it was not exactly love at first sight for the confident young American, who — despite winning his first grand slam at the age of 19 — suffered early exits in his first three visits to the famous grass-court venue.
“I didn’t like grass at all and when people ask me about grass and when I first went over there, I tell them I hated Wimbledon. I hated the surface,” he told CNN.
But, speaking to Open Court’s Pat Cash, a fellow Wimbledon champion, Sampras quickly qualified his remarks.
“I loved Wimbledon and what it meant, but the surface felt uncomfortable. I just didn’t like it, I was a hard-court guy, a Californian kid.
“On hard courts the ball is going to be just there, but with grass you have to adjust, so the first two, three years I had to adjust and came out with a bad attitude.”
Sampras paid tribute to his former coach Tim Gullikson, who tragically lost his life to brain cancer in 1996.
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