by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

NEW YORK — You know what I always say. People. People who need people. They’re the luckiest people in the world.

So I had to come to the Big Apple to check out this rumor about two lucky people who have been — and you’re not going to believe this — romantically linked at the U.S. Open.

Andre Agassi and . . .

Barbra Streisand.

Go ahead, take a Maalox. I’ll wait.

It was last weekend that Barbra was first spotted in the stands during one of Andre’s matches. Just a coincidence? I thought so. Then she showed up for his match Monday night and was seen cheering wildly on Andre’s manly ground strokes.

Then a USA Network camera found her seat, and the 50-year- old Streisand, who almost never gives interviews, began to gush. On cable, no less.

“Andre called me after he saw ‘Prince of Tides.’ He’s very sweet and he was moved by the movie. And we stayed on the phone for two hours — and found we had a lot in common.”

I’m thinking, what, hair dye?

“He’s very, very intelligent — very, very sensitive — very evolved, more than his linear years. He’s an extraordinary human being.”

Are we talking about the same guy here?

Andre Agassi and Barbra Streisand?

What’s next? Michael Chang and Bea Arthur?

Also: What is a linear year? They aren’t the original odd couple

Now, we should mention that the Open has been an odd matchmaker before. Remember last year, when Monica Seles — who was what, 9 years old? — rushed out to sit with actor Alec Baldwin? And a few years ago, teen queen Jennifer Capriati shared box seats with Mr. Tom Cruise.

So there is something about this stadium. Maybe it’s the romantic rumble of those low-flying planes coming into LaGuardia. But still. Andre Agassi and
. . . Barbra Streisand?

“What moves you about Andre?” Babs was asked.

“He plays like a Zen Master. It’s very in the moment. And in fact, very concentrated, very focused, but very much aware of what’s happening.”

You get the feeling Barbra has been shopping in those New Age bookstores again?

I have heard Andre described with many words over the years. Those words include “petulant,” “spoiled” and “phony.” Lately they include “calmer,”
“nicer” and “still phony.” I have never heard “Zen Master.” That’s a new one.

Even Agassi said, “I’ll have to talk to Barbra about that.”

Barbra wasn’t around for Wednesday night’s 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-4 loss to Jim Courier, which might be why The Zen Master blew a gasket. After flopping a point, Andre threw his racket, and the umpire gave Agassi a warning. Andre responded by glaring, covering his mouth with a towel and screaming “Bleep you!” into it three times.

The Zen Master speaks.

But back to Funny Girl and Funny Guy. Andre admits he and Barbra enjoy each other’s company, although he says, “She is her own woman.” That’s nice. Respect. You should show that to someone older than your mother.

Now, I admit, it is hard to imagine these two sharing many activities together, except blow-drying. But maybe Barbra is teaching him some of her songs from “Funny Girl.” Like:

I’m the greatest star

I am by far . . .

And Andre can play the Omar Sharif role. True, Omar had more hair. And no earring. But it might work.

Or maybe Streisand is helping Andre with his acting. After all, when he won Wimbledon this summer, he fell to the grass, kissed it, then began to get up — until he saw his coach (or Zen Master) Nick Bollettieri, waving at him to “Stay down!” so the cameras could capture the moment longer.

Hey. Image is everything.

“Andre is kind,” Streisand said. “He’s a kind human being . . . and that just amazes me.”

Amazes me, too. I always thought he was a ditz. Enquiring minds want to know

Now. I want to think this is all very innocent, just an aging singer with a fond interest in tennis. Agassi has a girlfriend, who attended his match Wednesday night. I want to believe in that. I don’t want to believe these stories of Andre sneaking over to Streisand’s apartment late at night. I thought her falling for Kris Kristofferson was bad, and that was just a movie.

But you know how it is in New York. They just got done chewing up Woody Allen. They need new material. So it’s Barbra and Andre. Her voice, his ponytail. Her fingernails, his belly button.

Think of the possibilities.

“(Barbra) obviously has a lot of respect for me on a personal level,” Andre admitted, “and now it is overflowing into the professional level. That is the ultimate compliment.”

And I thought the ultimate compliment was “Hey, you lose weight?”

But what do I know? I came to see some tennis. I got the National Enquirer. Either Barbra-Andre shows the power of sports, or the power of movies. Or the boredom that is setting into New York.

Whatever. It is hard to believe all this began with the simple viewing of a film. I mean, imagine if Andre had watched “Yentl” instead of “Prince of Tides?”

He might be a rabbi by now.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

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.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!