London - Former tennis star Andre Agassi has admitted the lion mane-style hairstyle he sported during the 1990s was actually a wig, in extracts from his autobiography published in British newspapers Saturday.
Agassi said he wore a hairpiece held together with pins in his first Grand Slam final, the 1990 French Open final, and blamed his concerns that it would fall apart for losing the match to Andres Gomez.
Before the match he prayed "not for victory, but that my hairpiece would not fall off", he writes in "Open".
In previous excerpts, Agassi admitted he had used the drug crystal methamphetamine in 1997.
He said he started to wear a wig to disguise hair loss.
"Every morning I would get up and find another piece of my identity on the pillow, in the wash basin, down the plughole," he wrote.
"I asked myself: you want to wear a toupee? On the tennis court? I answered myself; what else could I do?"
But the wig began to disintegrate as he took a shower the night before the Paris final - "probably I used the wrong hair rinse," Agassi writes.
He panicked and called his brother Philly into the room. Together, they managed to clamp the wig together using clips and pins.
Agassi, 39, writes: "Of course I could have played without my hairpiece, but what would all the journalists have written if they knew that all the time I was really wearing a wig?
"During the warming-up training before play I prayed. Not for victory, but that my hairpiece would not fall off.
"With each leap, I imagine it falling into the sand. I imagine millions of spectators move closer to their TV sets, their eyes widening and, in dozens of dialects and languages, ask how Andre Agassi's hair has fallen from his head."
It was actress Brooke Shields, who he married, who persuaded him to cut off all his remaining hair.
"She said I should shave my head," he said. "It was like suggesting I should have all my teeth out.
"Nevertheless, I thought for a few days about it, about the agonies it caused me, the hypocrisy and lies."
But after taking the plunge, "a stranger stood before me in the mirror and smiled," Agassi said.
"My wig was like a chain and the ridiculously long strands in three colours like an iron ball which hung on it."
Agassi won eight Grand Slams during his career and is one of only six men to win all four major titles.
gj/jd - AFP