Andre Agassi is one of the best tennis players of all time. At first glance, a man who won $31 million dollars and was inducted into the Hall of Fame might not seem super relatable, but we’re also talking about a guy who admitted to wearing a wig for a good chunk of his career because of his insecurities over his receding hairline.
He really is one of us!
If you’re somehow not familiar with Agassi, he took the tennis world in the 1980s and only needed a few years to cement himself as one of the most talented players on the planet. When everything was said and done, he won 60 singles tournaments, an Olympic gold medal, and eight Grand Slam titles while securing the career Grand Slam with a win at the French Open in 1999.
Agassi’s play was obviously the biggest reason he stood out from the rest of the pack, but he also had a reputation for rocking some pretty flashy outfits to complement the signature mullet that caused fans around the world to mimic his look while becoming a bit of a legend in its own right.
However, it turned out to be a sham.
Why Andre Agassi wore a wig
Andre Agassi was just 19 when he started going bald—which just so happened to be around the same time he began his meteoric rise.
That’s obviously a tough situation for any guy to deal with, but it was an especially brutal development for the teenager who recently found himself thrust into the international spotlight. Agassi was deeply embarrassed by his receding hairline and decided he was going to do everything in his power to try to keep it a secret.
In his autobiography, the tennis legend detailed what was going through his head at the time, saying:
“Every morning I would get up and find another piece of my identity in the pillow, in the wash basin, down the plughole.
I asked myself: you want to wear a toupee? On the tennis court? I answered myself: What else could I do?”
Now, I can’t say I have any personal experience with this issue, but I know there are a lot of guys who simply decide to embrace the bald look. With that said, I can’t say I blame him for wanting to go a different route—especially at a relatively young age.
That approach seemingly worked out pretty well for Agassi, as most tennis fans had no idea the flowing locks he was rocking on the court weren’t actually his. Unfortunately, it also forced him to deal with some other issues—including one setback he claims cost him a championship match.
As I mentioned above, Agassi didn’t win a title at the French Open until 1999. However, prior to that point, he’d appeared in the finals on a couple of occasions, which included a showdown with Andres Gomez in 1990.
The night before Agassi was set to face off against his Ecuadorian opponent, he found himself panicking after his wig fell apart. He was afraid of how the press would react if he suddenly showed up with a new look, and after placing a call to his brother for some advice, he managed to use hair clips to salvage the disguise.
As he recalled in his book, “During the warming-up training before, I prayed. Not for victory, but that my hairpiece would not fall off.” He later said he genuinely believed he lost to Gomez because he was preoccupied with not blowing his cover to the point where he had trouble focusing on the actual match.
You might think that would have caused Agassi to do a little bit of self-reflecting; again, I’ve never had to experience that particular plight, but when it reaches a point where it’s disrupting your play, it feels like it might be time to accept your fate.
Agassi kept the ruse going before he finally decided it was time to shave his head in 1995 after relying on the wig for five years. Since then, he’s served as a bit of an ambassador for other guys who’ve also found themselves dealing with hair loss by encouraging them to follow in his footsteps and embrace the baldness.