Wimbledon coincides with a sudden upswing in the sport's popularity, the result of two dramatic, emotional finals at the French Open earlier this month. Among the most intriguing storylines:

Rejuvenated Andre Agassi

The 29-year-old will be trying to become the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Agassi's resurgence creates the tantalizing prospect of a showdown with Pete Sampras in the final. Their rivalry was once the most touted in tennis, but they haven't met in a Grand Slam tournament since the 1995 U.S. Open final, which Sampras won. Agassi's first major title came at Wimbledon in 1992, and two weeks ago he became only the fifth man to win all four Grand Slam events. Now he'll try to become the first man to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year since Borg did it three times in a row, 1978-1980.

Cheers or Tears?

Top-ranked Martina Hingis won Wimbledon in 1997, but she must regroup after unraveling in the French final. She drew boos for complaining about calls and resorting to underhanded serves at the end of the match.

Sentimental Favorite

Boris Becker, 31, announced his retirement from Grand Slam competition two years ago but decided to take one final bow at Wimbledon. He won the tournament three times, most recently in 1989. "Two or three years ago I considered myself one of the few who had a chance at Wimbledon," Becker said. "I know I can play well on grass. I'm going to give a difficult match to anybody who is going to play me on it."

Is Eight Enough?

Steffi Graf will try to build on her stunning performance in Paris. The Grand Slam title was Graf's 22nd, capping her comeback from a series of injuries that threatened her career. "She surprised everybody and herself with the way she played," defending Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna said. "She played some of her best tennis in years. Her chances of playing well at Wimbledon and possibly winning it are great."

Novotna and Graf are among at least seven women capable of winning the title. The others: Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, and those brash teenagers -- Martina Hingis, Venus Williams and Anna Kournikova. Williams's sister, Serena, withdrew because of flu.

Mixing It Up

John McEnroe, who often leads complaints that grass-court tennis has become boring, plans to interject his own excitement by playing mixed doubles with Graf.

A Dozen Roses?

Sampras, who has won Wimbledon five times, will be seeking a record-tying 12th Grand Slam title. Sampras, 27, won Wimbledon in 1998 for the fifth time in six years, but has not reached a Grand Slam final since. He still needs one major title to match Roy Emerson's record of 12. He has struggled so far this spring, losing in the second round at the French Open. But Sampras also struggled early in 1998 before winning Wimbledon, and a return to grass rejuvenated his game again last week, when he beat Tim Henman in the final at Queen's.

Top Seeds


1. Pete Sampras, U.S.

2. Patrick Rafter, Australia

3. Yevgeny Kafelnikov,


4. Andre Agassi, U.S.

5. Richard Krajicek,



1. Martina Hingis, Switzerland

2. Steffi Graf, Germany

3. Lindsay Davenport,


4. Monica Seles, U.S.

5. Jana Novotna, Czech


The No. 1s

Pete sampras

Age: 27

Birthplace:: U.S.

Year went pro: 1988

Wimbledon titles:

1993-95, 1997-98

1999 record: 11-6

1999 prize money:


Career prize money:


Martina Hingis

Age: 18

Birthplace: Slovakia

Year went pro: 1994

Wimbledon titles: 1997

1999 record: 40-6

1999 prize money:


Career prize money:


Prize Money


Champion: $725,000

Runner-up: $362,000

Doubles, per pair:


Mixed doubles:



Champion: $651,000

Runner-up: $326,000

Doubles, per pair:


Mixed doubles:


CAPTION: No longer Mr. Brooke Shields, Andre Agassi's tennis game is in top form after stunning win in French Open.

CAPTION: Steffi Graf was counted out after injuries and erratic play, but the German has regained her health, and form, and is a major threat once again.

CAPTION: Martina Hingis, who wound up the villain in her French Open final loss to Steffi Graf, said she learned a valuable lesson after losing her composure in Paris.

CAPTION: Five-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras is ready to pay lip service to his favorite trophy in tennis.