Tennis Star Andre Agassi Applauds the Evolving Conversation About Mental Health in Sports

Andre Agassi, the tennis champion who ultimately hated the sport for much of his career, recently reflected on the importance of mental health in sports in an exclusive interview with E! News.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Mar 16, 2024 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Serena Williams' Mental Health Update: "Not OK Today"

Though he's considered one of the greatest players of all time, Andre Agassi has a complicated relationship with the game of tennis

Primed to be a champion by his father from a young age, the eight-time Grand Slam winner spent much of his professional career hounded by external pressures and a mounting personal disdain for the sport in which he had, as planned, found such success. It's why he is now so appreciative of the evolving conversation about the importance of mental health in sports.

"I think anytime that you have an environment that is friendlier to honesty and communication," he told E! News in an exclusive interview March 2, "is just a healthier process and a more efficient one end to end. And a better one."

The 55-year-old, who previously detailed his struggles with tennis in his 2009 memoir Open, continued, "I think we've come a long way. But it helps so many that I've just sort of said, ‘Hey, here's having the courage to say this is a concern. And this is a reality, and this is the truth.' And it allows us not to stick stigma to it, but to understand."

Yet Andre also acknowledges that when it comes to professional sports, pressure is always inevitable

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"Sports by definition, it will always have an inherent anchor to it emotionally," he reflected. "I mean, think about what you have to do to turn pro at 16 years old, what you have to deal with every day of your life. You're giving your entire early existence to one entire focus. The ability to be able to have any real balance or avoid any form of PTSD would require—it'd be an anomaly."

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In fact, it was one young champion in particular who came to Andre's mind: Spain's Carlos Alcaraz, who participated in Netflix's exhibition match against fellow countryman Rafael Nadal on March 3.

"Look at Alcazar, he's 20 years old," Andre—who shares kids Jaden, 22, and Jaz, 20, with wife Steffi Graf—explained. "He's two years younger than my son, he's my daughter's age. And it's like, wow, he's got a world on his shoulders. So you can only imagine what his early years are like."

But for Andre, his more than two decades of playing professional tennis are long behind him. These days he enjoys spending time with the most important people in his life: his family.

And after tying the knot in 2001, he and fellow tennis champion Steffi revel in the everyday joys. 

"We love cooking together," Andre revealed. "We love hiking together. We love even grocery shopping together, dividing and conquering. So it's real life. And we're blessed." 

For more celebrities who have been candid about mental health, keep reading. 

Candace Cameron Bure

The Full House alum reflected on her mental health journey and navigating her battle with depression.

"It's very difficult to speak out about it, even to your most trusted people," she shared on her Candace Cameron Bure Podcast. "At least for me, I feel like I should be strong enough to overcome that and then it feels so weak."

Billie Eilish

The Grammy-winning singer has been very open about how she protects her energy, such as ignoring haters on social media, while also sharing her advice for those who may need help. 

"When people ask me what I'd say to somebody looking for advice on mental health, the only thing I can say is patience," she told Vogue. "I had patience with myself. I didn't take that last step. I waited. Things fade."

Katy Perry

While everyone was trying to make the best of socially distancing to slow the coronavirus pandemic, Katy Perry got real about how situations like this can also be extremely stressful.

"sometimes i don't know what's worse trying to avoid the virus or the waves of depression that come with this new norm," she shared on Twitter.The candid singer talked about how she manages those waves, writing, "There is not really anywhere to go besides my car. So I go to my car a lot. That is my safe space."

Kendall Jenner

The model, who has teamed up with designer Kenneth Cole to raise awareness for The Mental Health Coalition, spoke on Good Morning America about her own experiences with anxiety.

She recalled after her panic attacks started recurring, she, "finally kind of got the information that I needed about it."

"For me, I have good days and I have some really anxious days, so I'm really off and on," she expressed, and added that was why she wanted to become involved with the movement. "What I hope to accomplish is for people to not feel as alone."

Dwayne Johnson

The mega-movie actor has been open about having depression, as well as how it can be difficult for men to talk about their mental health.

"We all go thru the sludge/shit and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up," he wrote on Twitter. "Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You're not alone."

Prince Harry

Prince Harry helped break down some of the stigma around seeking help for mental health when, in an interview with the Telegraph, he opened up about his own journey with therapy.

"The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realize that actually you're part of quite a big club," he told the outlet.

Taraji P. Henson

Another proponent of seeking professional help, Taraji P. Henson has been open about her struggles with depression, telling Variety, "I have a therapist that I speak to. That's the only way I can get through it."

The actress even started The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which works to reduce the stigma around mental health in the African-American community and also works to increase the number of black therapists.

Lili Reinhart

"When I was in middle school, I was struggling with severe anxiety and depression and the help and support I received from my family and a therapist saved my life," Riverdale's Lili Reinhart wrote on Instagram in 2017. 

"Asking for help is the first step. You are more precious to this world than you'll ever know."

Kristen Bell

The Frozen performer has talked for years about her strategies for coping with her mental health at public keynotes and even on her Instagram Stories.

She has advocated for finding the methods that help you best, which via Health for her can include medication, listing ten positive things in her life for every negative thought and getting plenty of exercise.

Chrissy Teigen

While Chrissy Teigen is the proud parent to four kiddos, she has also been open about postpartum depression that many new mothers experience, but feel like they cannot talk about.

"It got easier and easier to say it aloud every time," she wrote in an open letter to Glamour in 2017. "I want people to know it can happen to anybody and I don't want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone."

Cara Delevingne

While promoting her book Mirror, Mirror, the model and actress opened up to The Edit magazine about facing depression and suicidal thoughts as a teenager, saying she felt "something dark" in her during that time.

"I relied too much on love, too much on other people to make me happy, and I needed to learn to be happy by myself," she told the publication, via W. "So now I can be by myself, I can be happy. It took me a long time."

Ariana Grande

The "Thank U, Next" singer has encouraged fans to seek help if they need, responding to a Twitter user who joked about wondering who Ariana Grande's therapist is with, "lmaoaoo this is funny as f--k but in all honesty therapy has saved my life so many times."

"If you're afraid to ask for help, don't be," she continued. "u don't have to be in constant pain & u can process trauma. i've got a lot of work to do but it's a start to even be aware that it's possible."

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato has been open about her journey with addiction, sobriety, mental health and more, including many of those aspects of her life within her music.

She also continually reminds fans that working on your mental health is an ongoing process where there will be some bad days, writing on Instagram once, "A reminder to anyone struggling out there - this life is a journey with tons of ups and downs but you can't give up."


The actress has taken on roles that deal with mental health, such as her role as Rue in the teen drama Euphoria, but the starlet has also addressed those issues in her own life, too.

Back in 2013, the performer wrote on her now-defunct app that she struggled with anxiety after an appearance on Ellen where her mic went out. She has since learned ways to manage those feelings, adding, "Sometimes you just have to take a step back so things stop stressin' you."

Selena Gomez

The singer candidly described her mental health journey with WSJ Magazine, saying, "My highs were really high, and my lows would take me out for weeks at a time."

"I found out I do suffer from mental health issues," she shared. "I got on the right medication, and my life has been completely changed."

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has made it her mission to spread kindness and be open about mental health, including her own.

"I have struggled for a long time, both being public and not public about my mental health issues or my mental illness," she said during the Global Changemakers Award at Children Mending Hearts' Empathy Rocks fundraiser in 2018. "But, I truly believe that secrets keep you sick."

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