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‘It Was Difficult to Concentrate..’- When Andre Agassi Blatantly Questioned the Move of Using Models as Ball Girls by a Prestigious Masters Event

Published 10/04/2022, 11:43 AM EDT

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Andre Agassi is one of the finest players the game has ever seen. He broke a record by becoming the first-ever player to triumph in all four singles majors, including hard, clay, and grass courts. Also, in 1999, he became the most recent American male to win the French Open.

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But five years after his historic victory, the court was witnessing something out of the ordinary. In 2004, the Madrid Open organizers recruited models from a local agency to work as ball girls at the Masters event for the men. In one of his post-game interviews, Agassi questioned the move of using models as ball girls from the organizers of the Madrid Open.


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Andre Agassi once opposed the bizarre decision made by the event organizers

The then 34-year-old Andre Agassi was playing his second round of Madrid Masters in 2004. He managed to knock out his opponent, Max Mirnyi of Belarus, with a score of 7-6 (7/5), 6-3. 

During the post-match presentation, one of the reporters questioned about the controversial topic of the Spanish government’s request to the Madrid Masters tennis tournament’s organizers to stop using models as ball girls.


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He jokingly responded to the reporter, saying, “It was difficult, to say the least, to concentrate on the ball. But I suppose I had an advantage, I’m used to playing with my wife. The (long, slit) skirts look like they’re a little difficult to run in – I think they need to be shorter, maybe. I need some time to let it absorb.” He then continued on a serious note saying, “I think it is important for our sport to understand its product clearly, and I’m not quite convinced this is part of our product.” 

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In spite of the outcry, the models continued to come back in the following years, and that didn’t stop. However, in recent years they have made some changes, such as bringing back the traditional ball boys and girls during the tournament’s early rounds. But come to the semi-finals and the finals, you would still get to see the models on the court as ball girls.


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Agassi couldn’t reach all the way to the finals of Madrid’s Masters 

The road till the quarterfinal was quite smooth, as the former No. 1, breezed past his opponents quite convincingly. Agassi was now facing Marat Safin of Russia. 


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WATCH THE STORY: When Roger Federer toyed his opponent so bad, he asked for advice from Andre Agassi in the crowd Wimbledon championships

Marat Safin has some great memories against Andre Agassi when he won his first head-to-head match at the French Open when he was just 18 years of age. Unfortunately, the eight-time Grand Slam champion again went down to the Russian with the score of 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). 

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Written by:

Sampreet Shetty


One take at a time

Sampreet Shetty is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in engineering, he started his professional career as a content writer. Sampreet started following tennis after witnessing Andy Murray's exploits on the ATP tour during his heyday.
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Edited by:

Manaal Siddiqui