Andre Agassi’s father was in the dark until he got home from work. His sister Tami found out when she returned from a Pearl Jam concert to find her answering machine flashing up a storm. The news? In a ceremony notable for its stealth, Agassi and fellow tennis titan Steffi Graf had legalized their love match. With only their mothers looking on, the champs tied the knot at his Las Vegas house on Oct. 22 with Agassi’s family friend, District Judge Michael Cherry, presiding over the civil vows. “We are so blessed to be married and starting this chapter of our lives,” the newlyweds—who are expecting a baby boy in December—said in a statement. “The privacy and intimacy of our ceremony was beautiful and reflective of all we value.”
There seemed to be no hard feelings among the uninvited. “When I got married, he didn’t know about it,” says Agassi’s father, Mike, 70, who learned of the nuptials from his wife, Elizabeth, 63, after returning home from his gig as a greeter at Vegas’s MGM/Mirage casino. Tami, 32, an executive for a Seattle nonprofit organization, says she “wasn’t shocked. They own a house together and they’re having a baby together; it just seems like getting married was a formality.”
Maybe so. But it’s not clear even to family members why the wedding took place in such haste. On Oct. 18, Agassi, 31, abruptly withdrew from a tournament in Basel, Switzerland, to come home to Graf, 32, who is experiencing discomfort in the final months of her pregnancy, according to Mike Agassi. “She is laying down on her back. Her mother [Heidi] is there and she has a nurse,” he says. “She’s resting as much as she can.” (The German-born Graf’s father, Peter, has been estranged from her mother since 1997, when he received a three-year, nine-month prison sentence for tax evasion on his daughter’s earnings.) Michael Graf, 30, a director of TV commercials who lives near Miami Beach, says his sister is “fine. I’m sure she’s nervous, but I don’t think more nervous than any other new mother.” Health issues aside, Agassi has suggested he and Graf wanted to be Mr. and Mrs. before becoming Mom and Dad. “Becoming parents definitely puts a time frame on getting married,” he told London’s Daily Telegraph in August. “In fact, in my mind, it wouldn’t be right not to be married.”
Agassi and Graf began their courtside courtship in 1999, shortly after Agassi’s nearly two-year marriage to Brooke Shields ended in divorce. Agassi had long admired the 22-time Grand Slam singles winner, who retired from tennis that August and was ending a seven-year relationship with German race-car driver Michael Bartels. “I was persistent, let’s leave it at that,” he told PEOPLE in 1999. “If you ever want to know what it feels like to be completely pursued and appreciated, just ask Steffi.” They soon moved into Agassi’s new Spanish-style spread in Las Vegas. Rumors of an impending wedding picked up when Graf turned up at Wimbledon in June sporting a gold band on her ring finger.
Lyndon Stambler and Lorenzo Benet in Los Angeles and Linda Trischitta in Miami Beach