A couple of decades ago, tennis champions (and married couple) Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf welcomed two children, Jaden Gil (b. 2001) and Jaz Elle (b. 2003).
I didn’t realize until doing research for yesterday’s post on Andre Agassi that Jaden’s middle name, Gil, honors Las Vegas strength and conditioning trainer Gil Reyes, who was a crucial part of Agassi’s late-career comeback.
Here’s a heartwarming passage about the name from Agassi’s autobiography Open (2009):
I bring Stefanie to Gil’s gym, under the guise of a workout. She’s beaming, because she knows why we’re really here.
Gil asks Stefanie if she’s feeling all right, if she’d like something to drink, if she’d like to sit. He guides her to an exercise cycle and she mounts sidesaddle. She studies the shelf Gil has built along one wall, to hold the trophies from my slams, including those I’ve had replaced since my post-Friends tantrum.
I fiddle with a stretching cord and then say: So, uhh, Gil, listen. We’ve picked out a name for our son.
Aw. What is it?
I like that, Gil says, smiling, nodding. Yes I do. I like that.
And — we also think we’ve got the perfect middle name.
I say, Jaden Gil Agassi. If he grows up to be half the man you are, he’ll be phenomenally successful, and if I can be half the father you’ve been to me, I’ll have surpassed my own standards.
Stefanie is crying. My eyes are filled with tears. Gil is standing ten feet away, in front of the leg extension machine. He has his trademark pencil behind his ear, his glasses on the end of his nose, his da Vinci notebook open. He reaches me in three steps and folds me in his arms.
These days, Jaden Gil doesn’t play tennis, but he does play baseball.