Those who were fans of Andre Agassi in his early days will remember what a furor he caused on the tennis court. Tennis has always been the game of the genteel British upper class, and Agassi, who was from Las Vegas, didn't exactly fit in. From his long, shaggy hair and bandanna to his Lycra bicycle shorts worn under denim cutoffs, he was the picture of a rebel. He added to his appearance with his uncouth behavior, spitting on the court and calling the umpire names. And yet, there was something about him that made fans go crazy—a certain fury in his playing. Agassi hit the ball as though he hated it and wanted to punish it in some way. In Open: An Autobiography, we realize that he did.
Agassi really opens up in this autobiography, talking about his childhood and his earlier years in the game. He was the son of a retired Olympian boxer who was determined to produce a prodigy. Agassi's three older siblings failed the test; they just didn't have what it took to train in the grueling way their father demanded. However, Andre was naturally talented and able to withstand the numerous hours of training. As a result, he was trained at home first and later sent to the Florida tennis academy where he endured more of the same. The academy was a competitive environment where everyone was trying to make it as a professional tennis player. This was where Agassi's rebellion began, with the long hair and a two-inch-long pinky nail, and it continued even as he became a professional tennis player who was eventually ranked number one, although for a short time.
Agassi also tells us the story of his first marriage to Brooke Shields which he describes as a farce. Besides the fact that the two were groomed for success from an early age, they didn't have much in common, with Shields being a more intellectual kind of person who disliked tennis and Agassi being jealous and feeling a little left behind even though he was doing better in his career. Eventually, Agassi started dating Steffi Graf, who was the number one tennis player of her time, replacing Martina Navratilova with her fierce forehand. Graf and Agassi are now married and spend their time doing charity work for "at risk" children in Las Vegas.
For anyone who followed any part of Agassi's tempestuous career, this is a great book that really takes you into the mind of the tennis player who managed to win so many hearts despite the rage he displayed on the court. You get a look behind the scenes, and you come to know Agassi as a person. What you see is a kind and generous man who eventually came to terms with a career he didn't choose.
Andre Agassi is the son of Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi, an Olympian boxer and Elizabeth "Betty" Agassi; he is the youngest of four children. He attended Nick Bollettieri's tennis academy in Florida for free because Bollettieri claimed that Agassi had more natural talent than anyone else he'd known. He dropped out at 16 and started playing professionally. He is an eight-time Grand Slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist.
From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court—a beautiful, haunting autobiography
Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return.
And yet, despite his raw talent, he struggles early on. We feel his confusion as he loses to the world’s best, his greater confusion as he starts to win. After stumbling in three Grand Slam finals, Agassi shocks the world, and himself, by capturing the 1992 Wimbledon. Overnight he becomes a fan favorite and a media target.
Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned. Alongside vivid portraits of rivals from several generations—Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer—Agassi gives unstinting accounts of his brief time with Barbra Streisand and his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. He reveals a shattering loss of confidence. And he recounts his spectacular resurrection, a comeback climaxing with his epic run at the 1999 French Open and his march to become the oldest man ever ranked #1.
In clear, taut prose, Agassi evokes his loyal brother, his wise coach, his gentle trainer, and all of the people who help him regain his balance and find love at last with Stefanie Graf. Inspired by her quiet strength, he fights through crippling pain from a deteriorating spine to remain a dangerous opponent in the twenty-first and final year of his career. Entering his last tournament in 2006, he’s hailed for completing a stunning metamorphosis, from nonconformist to elder statesman, from dropout to education advocate. And still he’s not done. At a US Open for the ages, he makes a courageous last stand and delivers one of the most stirring farewells ever heard in a sporting arena.
With its breakneck tempo and raw candor, Open will be read and cherished for years. A treat for ardent fans, it will also captivate readers who know nothing about tennis. Like Agassi’s game, it sets a new standard for grace, style, speed, and power. Download and start listening now!