I finished reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open” over the weekend. It was the first book I read from start to finish on a Kindle, an electronic book. It was well written with the help of ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer.
I didn’t begin playing and following tennis regularly until Nadia and I moved to Australia in 2000. I only caught the tail end of his long career, but I do remember him from the 90’s.The book is quite complete, starting with growing up in Las Vegas, through his playing career, and finishing with his marriage to Stefanie Graf and building a charter school for poor children in Las Vegas.
He is very honest or “open” with the book and describes the good times as well as his lowest times. I couldn’t relate to having a father so obsessed with something. Andre played so much tennis in his yard with his father. He resented being forced to do this, but where would he be without it? Being a tennis professional brought him so much. I am not going to push my children into any one thing, but I do want them to experience as much as possible and become an outlier at something. I want them to strive to get ahead in life.
The book made me think about professional tennis players and life on the tour. It is funny that these young people travel all over the world, but don’t really get to do the sightseeing because they are so engrossed in tennis. There is a lot of pressure in tennis, it is an intimate sport, almost a dual. I would love for my sons or daughter to have the opportunity to be a professional athlete.
He takes rips at Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, his father among others in the book. One strange omission is not much on his mother. It seems like she was silent and working all the time and didn’t really have much of an influence on him. I would like to hear her, as well as Andre’s siblings points of view.
Adolescence and young adulthood are a difficult time for almost everyone. Tennis players experience this very publically. The book follows his maturation and making peace with himself and finding out what he wants to do in life.
The most controversial part of the book was his drug use and lying to ATP officials. This was the low point of this career and he went on to reach #1 again. It was not a performance-enhancing drug and I don’t see the big deal of admission of taking speed.
The final part of the book that interested me was the entourage. Every player has their people in the box that support the player. Parents, friends, brothers, coaches, trainers, etc. all can be part of teams. Andre really relied on his “team” and spends a lot of the book describing how they helped him.
Andre is a really nice guy and decent human being. Tennis would benefit by having more players like him.