Sep 29, 2008

All-Star Tennis Smash: The Bryan twins following the lead of the altruistic Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi's philanthropic ways inspire Bob and Mike Bryan to establish their own foundation.

The 30-year-old twins held their inaugural charity event for their Bryan Brothers' Foundation on Saturday at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks and got the man himself to headline.

Agassi made a rare appearance to help raise money for the foundation — in the All-Star Tennis Smash — which benefits at-risk kids in Ventura County — and was joined by American tennis stars James Blake, Robby Ginepri, Justin Gimelstob, Paul Goldstein and Lindsay Davenport.
"I have been privileged to lead a privileged life with this sport and my choice to give back and do what I decided to do was something I felt deeply for a long time," Agassi said.

"For others to be inspired by it is one thing. But the truth is, they are doing the hard hours every day. You can't just wake up and say this is what I want. You have to earn it every day, and these guys are doing it."
The Bryans knew from the moment they began planning their foundation they wanted Agassi to help kick it off.
"He knows we idolize him and still have his posters up in our garage and are the reason we have rackets in our hand," Mike Bryan said.

"Out of the goodness of his heart, he did this for us and really made this event happen. We'll never forget it. We are his slaves for life."
Agassi became the pioneer for charity in men's tennis when he established The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation and Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.

"We know that if we band together and commit to support each other that is the best opportunity to affect change," said Gimelstob, who started the Justin Gimelstob Children's Fund in 1998.

"We have all been very loyal to each other and the Bryans do so much for so many people and are always the first to promote tennis, so for them to ask is a no-brainer. Just tell me where and when to be there."

Last year, Blake established the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund to help support cancer research.

The fund is named in memory of his father, who died of gastric cancer in 2004.
"If you have a voice, you might as well use it for a positive change," Blake said.

"That is the way we have all felt and I have been fortunate enough my parents instilled that in me and it seems like this generation has a great group of parents to lead them and teach them the right way to be a role model."

Ginepri remembers struggling to finance his tennis career while growing up in Georgia.

Once he turned professional, he began working with the Atlanta Youth Foundation for underprivileged kids.
"If you can give a kid a racket and reach out to them and help them pursue their dreams that is what matters," Ginepri said.

"We all realize that and will always be there to help each other's causes."

The giving nature even crosses over to the women's side, although it might not be as apparent, says Davenport.
"You probably don't see it as much because we don't have tons of Americans up there playing," she said.

"Obviously, the Williams sisters and I know Maria (Sharapova) has her own foundation, but there are not as many Americans doing so well at the top like the guys have to help each other out."
The Bryans raised $285,000 in pre-sale tickets alone for their event, and figured to raise much more through an auction.

After seeing the turnout at Sherwood, Bob Bryan knew he could rest easy at his Spanish Hills home.
"At 30 years old, it's not all about tennis," he said.

"It is about what helps you sleep at night and doing stuff like this makes you feel good because you know how many lives it will impact."
Thanks to Adam for this extra piece of info and photos.

Later that evening, at a Gala Dinner, the brothers feted Agassi for his charitable endeavors in front of a star-studded audience of players and celebrities, including Maria Sharapova and Kaley Cuoco.

The evening began with an incredible auction featuring autographed tennis racquets, an evening with Bob and Mike Bryan, and a day with Maria Sharapova, and was capped off by performances from a host of musical guests, including acoustic singer/songwriters Evan and Jaron and a surprise performance by Columbia Records recording artist Brandi Carlile.

(Via, Image via

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