Yesterday’s men’s final at Wimbledon was another epic. To the surprise of many, American Andy Roddick took the first set, refusing to let the ball stay in play long enough for his opponent, returning champion Roger Federer, to do what many had expected him to – dominate the final.
As the match got under way, in the crowd watching were many famous faces such as Russell Crowe, Woody Allen, and Ben Stiller. Rumours were spreading that ‘greatest tennis player of all time’ Pete Sampras would be making an appearance to see if Federer would break his record of 14 Grand Slam wins. Sampras did arrive, fashionably late, after the match had begun, and took his seat in the Royal Box. The sense of occasion was heightened; with Federer looking to take not only the Wimbledon trophy but also the title from Sampras.
Despite Roddick playing his best ever tactical tennis, Federer held tight and dug deep to come back and win the match in five sets. The players battled it out over 30 games in the final set with Federer winning 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 to regain the title he lost to Rafael Nadal last year (Nadal did not enter the competition this year due to injury). As the winning and runner-up trophies were handed out, Roddick, showing good sportsmanship and humour, said, “I just want to say congratulations to Roger, he deserves everything he gets, so well done Roger,” and then looked up to the Royal Box and said, “I tried, sorry Pete.”
Sampras, a Greek-American, was known for his thick hair both on his head and on his body. In 1990, at the age of just 18, he won his first Gland Slam, the US Open. He went on to become known as the greatest tennis player of his time, winning multiple titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. He became known as Pistol Pete for the speed and strength of his serve.
Despite his ruggish good looks, Sampras was still only in his twenties when there was talk in the media about his hair loss. In the run up to Wimbledon 2001, a BBC article forecast things were changing, with Pete losing not only his hair but also his place at the top:
‘Away from Wimbledon, there is no doubt his powers are diminishing. His last win in any of the other Grand Slams came four years ago and his outings in the smaller tournaments are so rare he could be accused of being semi-retired… Sampras is losing a little more of his hair and his aura of invincibility. But don’t bet on him handing over the keys to the Centre Court to one of his younger rivals just yet.’ However, the reign of Sampras was ended and the winner of Wimbledon 2001 turned out to be none other than the hirsute 19 year-old Federer.
Sampras did win the US Open in 2002 but this was his last Grand Slam win. He played no tour events in the following 12 months and officially announced his retirement from the sport in August 2003, aged 31. But even with the hair loss, he still held the Grand Slam Title for the most number of wins. Until yesterday.
Although he said he would never play the seniors’ circuit, in December 2008 Sampras came to London to play in the BlackRock Masters at the Albert Hall. Fellow American tennis legend John McEnroe was his first opponent. The Independent ran a feature on Sampras’s return to playing tennis competitively. The opening line read: ‘The hair is a little thinner and the belt around the waist may have gone out half a notch, but the competitive glint still burns brightly in Pete Sampras’ eye.’
It is clear though that 37-year-old Sampras has other priorities in his life now such as being a good father and husband and doesn’t take the tennis too seriously. He said, “It’s not as though I feel I have to come here and win the event. I’d like to, but it’s not like it used to be when I was in my mid-twenties and it was all or nothing”.
It could be that the stress of playing at that level contributed to Sampras’s thinning hair. Either way, hair loss affects 1 in 2 men at some stage in their lives and even the great sporting champions are not immune. Andre Agassi has spoken about his battle with male pattern baldness. What is not so well known, is that there are many hair loss treatments available for men and women of all ages.
If you are experiencing hair loss or hair thinning and would like to learn more about available hair loss treatments, please feel free to email us or call us at the clinic on 0207 730 6666 where we can arrange for a free initial consultation with one of our hair care specialists. Alternatively, if you are unable to make it into the clinic, you can fill out the online diagnostic form and a treatment advisor will be in touch with you shortly.