As a tennis fan, the release of Andre Agassi’s, Open, was a shock to the system. Agassi wasn’t my favorite player growing up. I’ll say for the record that I was a Pete Sampras guy. In fact, I’ll never forget the match at the US Open when for nearly three hours, Agassi and Sampras traded blows for four sets. Four tie-break sets and no breaks of serve! It was one of the best matches I’d ever seen – even though I cheered for Sampras.
Much was made before the book’s release about Agassi’s admission to using drugs while on tour. The funny thing is, as I read it, I knew it was coming and with the buildup of his personal destruction, I could see it coming. Ultimately, for all that was made of the admission, it was a tiny log in a mountain-pile of Agassi logs.
In Open, we see a man. A true man. He’s a guy I can completely relate to. He says countless times throughout the book that, “I hate tennis.” At first I didn’t believe it. I figured throughout the book Agassi would realize he was just a kid and just hated living and breathing tennis everyday. I was wrong.
He completely and with every bone in his body, hated the game. As a fan, it is hard to hear that one of your sports idols hated the game you love and the only game you played growing up. Tennis is a game I make sure to watch any time it is on television. To hear this guy hates it, made me sad. I was sad for Agassi. I was sad for the game. ‘What else could he have become if not for tennis?’ I wondered.
The great part of Agassi’s story is that he found his place in the world and in tennis. That’s where he and I are similar. He didn’t find his way until he was about 28 years ago. I found myself when I was 21.
“What people see now, for better or worse, is my first formation, my first incarnation. I didn’t alter my image, I discovered it.” –Andre Agassi
Agassi is a testament to hard work and perseverance. From the drug use, the divorce from Brooke Shields and the ever present realization that he hates tennis, Agassi became an American champion.
Despite just a bit too much play-by-play tennis action, even if you aren’t a tennis fan, there are plenty of life lessons in this work. You feel for Agassi. You pull for Agassi. You will sit in the stands and be in the locker room when Brad Gilbert lays into him. You’ll be with him when he finally meets his dream girl in Stefanie Graf.
Towards the end of his career, once he finally realized his purpose in life, Agassi created a charter school to help students find the value in education, something he never did. (He never finished high school).
All told, this is a tremendous inside look at one of the best American tennis players and a true American hero.