When one talks about the greatest tennis players of all time, only a handful of names come to mind. In terms of sheer number of championships won, perhaps no one is more deserving of the tag "the greatest ever" than Pete Sampras.
Sampras played professional tennis from 1988 to 2003 and left an indelible mark in the history of the game. He won a record 14 Grand Slam men's singles titles and finished the year as No. 1 for a record six consecutive years, from 1993 to 1998. When it came to Grand Slam events, Sampras was always at the top of his game, winning the men's singles title at Wimbledon a record seven times, the US Open five times and the Australian Open twice. He also won 11 ATP Masters Series titles. The one blemish on his record is that he never won the French Open, which is the lone Grand Slam event that eluded the superstar's grasp.
Overall, Sampras won 64 top-level singles titles and two doubles titles. He was ranked the World No. 1 for a record 286 weeks. Aside from his overall court game, he is widely regarded to have one of the best second serves in history.
From an early age, Sampras showed signs of outstanding athletic ability. The young Sampras discovered a tennis racquet in the basement of his home and spent hours hitting balls against the wall. In 1978, the Sampras family moved to
Pensacola, California and joined the Peninsula Racquet Club, where they played a great deal of tennis together. At the age of seven, it did not take long for Pete's ability became apparent. Even at that early stage, Sampras showed the beginnings of a solid serve and volley tactic that would become the hallmark of his game.
Dr. Peter Fisher, a rabid tennis enthusiast, spotted Sampras on the courts and soon became his mentor, overseeing the boy's training and tapping coaches to help him reach the next level.
In 1988, at the age of 17, Sampras had turned pro. By February 1990, he already won his first singles tournament and by August that same year, he captured his first Grand Slam, the US Open. With that victory, Sampras became the youngest-ever champion of the US Open at the age of 19 years and 28 days. The rest, as they say, is history.