This year marks the 50th anniversary of TENNIS Magazine's founding in 1965. To commemorate the occasion, we'll look back each Thursday at one of the 50 moments that have defined the last half-century in our sport.
“It reminds me of those Vegas windstorms, the kind that begin with a faint, ominous rustling of leaves, and ultimately turn into high-pitched, gale-force, three-day blows.”
This was how a 19-year-old named Andre Agassi described what it was like to begin hearing a certain, soon-to-be-infamous three-word slogan shouted at him by fans in the summer of 1989. The problem was, that soon-to-be-infamous slogan was his own.
A few months earlier, on the set of a commercial in the Nevada desert for a camera called the Canon Rebel, Agassi had been instructed to step out of a white Lamborghini, lower his sunglasses, and utter the words, “Image is everything.”
“Image is everything?” Agassi asked the director.
“Yes. Image is everything.”
Agassi shrugged and did as he was told. He had other things on his mind that day, anyway. An old crush, Wendi Stewart, had shown up on the set out of nowhere; not long after, they would be dating.
But Agassi couldn’t shrug off what those three, seemingly innocuous words would come to represent. By the summer of ’89, they sounded like a confession. Image, according to the media and many fans, really was everything to the kid from Las Vegas. Three years earlier, Agassi had burst onto the tennis scene—this is one case where that cliché is justified—sporting acid-washed jean shorts and heavy-metal hair, and hitting his forehand, as John McEnroe would say, harder than anyone, ever. It seemed only a matter of time, a short time, before he would be No. 1 in the world and winning Grand Slams.