"This is an opportunity of a lifetime to affect change for the better and I feel lucky to have it"
In 1999, a nervous 17-year-old Andy Roddick was sitting next to Andre Agassi on a flight home from a tennis event. It had been a whirlwind year for the rising star as he began his career as a professional athlete. Seeking advice, he asked his boyhood idol a question he hoped would provide some insight into Agassi's success: "Do you have any regrets?"
Andre Agassi quickly shared his advice: "I wish I hadn't waited so long to start my foundation," he replied. Roddick took the advice to heart, and at age 17 returned to his home in Florida and immediately set about organizing his first events to benefit children less fortunate than himself.
By age 18, Roddick's career was taking off. He won the Australian and US Opens junior Grand slam titles, and was on his way to becoming the No. 1 ranked 18-and-under player in the world.
Despite the pressures of his fledging career, Roddick continued with his charitable efforts. In 2000, he founded the Andy Roddick Foundation.
Roddick's early efforts through his foundation were small scale and limited by his budget and relative anonymity.
But these early forays into giving back helped Roddick realize his other passion in his life: helping children without the same opportunities he had growing up.
Then, in 2003 at age 20, everything began changing. He won the first two of his five Masters Series titles in Montreal and Cincinnati and then shook the tennis world by winning the US Open.
Propelled by his professional success, an all-volunteer Foundation raised more than $11 million to fund programs that enhance educational and economic opportunities for thousands of children throughout the United States.
Now upon his retirement, Andy is focusing his attentions on the foundation, kicking off with the Andy Roddick Foundation Sports & Learning Center located in East Austin.