Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Open: An Autobiography

I recently read Andre Agassi's "Open: An Autobiography." Agassi is 3.5 years older than me, and I remember when he first entered the scene as an up-and-coming teenage phenom. I followed his tennis career through the years, and was a spectator in Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium at the 2006 US Open when Agassi had his epic five set victory over Marcos Baghdatis.

As a side note, there are only two times when I cried at a sporting event. The first was when I watched on television the Marquette men's basketball team beat Kentucky to advance to the Final Four in 2003. The second was when Agassi defeated Baghdatis at the US Open in in 2006, and I was fortunate to be at that one in person.

As a tennis fan and an Agassi fan, I found the book fascinating. Agassi isn't afraid to put everything out there, even difficult and painful emotional revelations. I got the sense that writing the book was a catharsis for Agassi. He writes in detail about how his dad's incessant pushing made him not only an amazing player, but also made him hate tennis. His issues with authority figures extended to Nick Bollettieri, the well-known tennis academy director and coach. Agassi isn't afraid to acknowledge the shortcomings of his education and how Bollettieri was motivated more by money and ego than by a desire for his students to succeed. You get all the details about his relationship, marriage, and divorce from Brooke Shields. Then you learn how Brad Gilbert helped him resurrect his tennis game, his comeback after falling below number 100, and how he met Steffi Graf.

The most interesting aspect of the book for me was reading the story of how Agassi came to grips with himself and with tennis. He uses his own experiences in a positive way to try to help others with his charter school in Las Vegas. While most sports autobiographies are focused on the rah-rah aspect of the writer's sport, this book is filled with brutal honesty. I found that refreshing. As someone who has also lost his hair, it was fascinating to read about how Agassi wore a hair piece, and how he lost a Roland Garros final at least partially due to fear that his hair piece would fall off. He also discussed his abuse of crystal meth to dull the pain he felt in his life and how he came back from that.

Overall, a great book, particularly for any tennis fan. 9 of 10.


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