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He just turned 28, he’s the top-ranked tennis player in the U.S., and he’s married to Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker. Yet, Andy Roddick remains friendly and approachable, possibly a result of his upbringing in Omaha, Neb. On the eve of the U.S. Open, Roddick made a personal appearance at Macy’s in Queens on behalf of Lacoste and its men’s fragrance, Challenge, for which he’s been the face for two years. Here, he talks about his success in the sport, his charitable foundation and his goals for this year’s tournament.
WWD: How did you get started in the sport?
Andy Roddick: Basically, it just came from being around it all the time. My mom played at her club, and my older brother John played, so when you’re around something enough, you gravitate to it. With a lot of the European players, they were protégés, but I went to a normal school and just played tennis after school.
This story first appeared in the September 2, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: You were just ranked ninth for the U.S. Open — the top American. Do you feel any pressure to perform well?
A.R.: I don’t really think about it because I’ve been the top American for the past eight years. I don’t really worry too much about rankings, but I would feel pressure if I wasn’t the top-ranked American.
WWD: What are your goals for the tournament?
A.R.: You always go in to these things to try to win, so that’s the goal. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but it is possible. It’s a matter of playing well. I just had a decent win in Cincinnati, so that’s encouraging.
WWD: What’s your plan beyond that? How much longer does your season last?
A.R.: We swing through Asia — Tokyo and Shanghai — then hit Europe and finish up in London. The season goes through late November, then we start up again in January. Tennis doesn’t allow for much of an off-season. But it’s good because it shows there’s a global demand for the sport.
WWD: What do you do when you’re not playing?
A.R.: I live a pretty boring existence when I’m away from my job. I play golf and we have a boat, so we got out on that.
WWD: You live in Austin [Tex.] — have you ever gone for a leisurely Saturday morning bike ride with Lance Armstrong?
A.R.: I haven’t — it actually scares me a little.
WWD: On a more serious note, tell me a little bit about the Andy Roddick Foundation.
A.R.: I was on a plane with Andre Agassi when I was around 17 — I was his practice partner. I was peppering him with questions, which probably really annoyed him. I asked him what his biggest regret was, and I expected him to say something about the highs and lows of professional tennis. But he said that he regretted not starting his charitable foundation early enough. I didn’t want to have the same regret, so I started mine right away. And as of right now, I think we’ve raised close to $15 million. And it all benefits at-risk youth.
WWD: You’re sponsored by Lacoste. How involved are you with the design of the product you wear?
A.R.: Lacoste is my sponsor for apparel, fragrance, watches, sunglasses — everything. I don’t design the line, but they send me samples six to eight months in advance and I approve them. But honestly, it doesn’t take much. I pretty much like everything they send.
WWD: What about off the court, how do you like to dress?
A.R.: Jeans, a Lacoste shirt, a ball cap and of course, the new Challenge cologne. I’ve been the face of the brand for two years now.
WWD: You’re a famous, top-ranked athlete, married to a supermodel. So what’s next for you?
A.R.: Hopefully, it’ll just be more of the same. I’ve been pretty lucky, especially getting Brook to say “yes.” That’s been my biggest accomplishment, although basically it was a fluke.