by | Jun 30, 1999 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

WIMBLEDON — “So, Mr. Agassi . . .”

“Call me Andre.”

“So, Mr. Andre, welcome to Top Flight British Dating Service. I hope you know, we consider ourselves the finest firm in the matchmaking business.”

“I know. That’s why I’m about to write this big check.”

“First we need to accept you as a client. I’ll need to look over your resume and ask a few questions.”

“Bring it on, big man. But go quick. I need a date for this weekend.”

“This weekend. Goodness. Where?”

“Wimbledon. Centre Court. Players’ box. I plan on winning this tournament, and since I’m recently divorced, I need someone to root me on.”

“That’s quite an honor.”

“I know. That’s why I’m about to write you this big check.”

“Patience, Mr. Andre. I’m sure you’ll pass our inspection with flying colors. The only thing we demand is consistency.”


“Yes. That way our clients know what they’re getting.”

“Uh …did I mention this big check?”

“So, I see you are a 29-year-old tennis player. And you recently won the French Open. Well done, sir!”

“I was amazing. Came back from two sets down.”

“And you are ranked now in the top five in the world. Wonderful!”

“You got it, babycakes.”

“But I also see that just two years ago, you were ranked as low as 141st and almost quit the sport.”

“Well . . .”

“And you had to play satellite tournaments to get back in.”

“That was, uh, my blue period.”

“Not very consistent, I’m afraid.”

“Hey! Do you want this big check or not?”

The choker or the champ

“Now, according to your resume, you are the first man in 30 years to have won all four Grand Slam events.”

“Well, I don’t want to brag . . .”

“This was after you lost your first three Grand Slam finals, giving you the reputation of a choker.”

“Yeah, but …”

“It says here you’ve been grateful, humble and polite during recent victory speeches.”

“Aw, shucks, I . . .”

“It also says you once spat at an umpire and got into an ugly shouting match during the Olympics competition.”

“Those guys were dweebs!”

“Based on this recent Wimbledon picture, you are neatly groomed, wearing the traditional whites.”

“That’s me. Mr. Old-Fashioned.”

“But these other photos show you in long hair, earrings, chains, and colors which are blatantly against the rules. Also your shirts were specially designed to reveal your belly button.”

“Hey, that was a good idea. Chicks dug it.”

“Hmm. According to this, there was a stretch where you were very religious.”

“Praise the Lord.”

“After a stretch when you were a party animal.”

“People grow.”

“You’ve been in top condition.”

“Feel these muscles.”

“And you’ve been heavy and out of shape.”

“I blame fast food.”

“You won Wimbledon and proclaimed it perhaps the greatest feeling a tennis player could have.”

“The tournament is so special.”

“Yet you also ducked playing Wimbledon for three years, and once referred to the organizers as ‘bozos.’ “

” ‘Bozo’ is such a subjective word . . .”

“Consistency, Mr. Andre.”

“Are we gonna get to this big check?”

For better or worse, but not for good

“A few final points. It says here you blow kisses to the crowd and thank them for their support.”

“A public man has a public obligation.”

“It also says when a reporter asked you a simple question recently, your response was, “Bleep you very much.”

“Well, you can be only so public.”

“You married the actress Brooke Shields and said she was responsible for getting your life and tennis in order.”

“Brooke’s the best.”

“But you divorced her this year, and your tennis has never been better.”

“Funny thing, bachelorhood.”

“You have been described as the most talented player of the ’90s.”

“You’re too kind.”

“You’ve also been described as the biggest waste of talent in the ’90s.”

“Who said that?”

“Mr. Andre, I must say, you’re not our typical British client.”

“Hey, I’m from Vegas.”

“But you do have much to recommend you. And a day in the sunshine of Wimbledon certainly makes for a nice first date. We’ll see if our matchmakers can find someone.”

“Great. Just make sure she’s there by noon.”

“A word of caution, sir. Ladies today like consistency. Something they can count on.”

“I hear you. I’m a new man.”


“Making a new start.”


“Here’s the check.”

“Many thanks.”

“One more thing.”


“If I lose, I’m canceling it.”

MITCH ALBOM can be reached at 313-223-4581 or Listen to Mitch’s radio show, “Albom in the Afternoon,” 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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