A tale of an Open heart
As I have pointed out many times before, I love reading memoirs. It’s basically turned into my favorite genre of literature. The thing is, as soon as I am close to finish one, I become anxious to find the next, so I’m constantly doing research to discover what my next reading will be.
Every time that I looked for a great autobiography online, I kept running into Andre Agassi’s Open. Everybody just seemed to love it. And I don’t mean just people in the sports sphere. Renowned writers and other artists had also great things to say about it.
It took me a while to finally decide and read it because I’m not that familiar with tennis -I don’t follow it, I don’t play it. However, the praise for Agassi’s book was so compelling that I made up my mind and gave it a try. And boy, were all those people right! This book is a gem!
The thing that first stroke me was Agassi’s outstanding memory. He was able to recount even the smallest of details for most of the games he describes in the book. He’s particularly generous when it comes down to analyze the states of mind he was into while playing the most important -and intense- matches of his career.
Secondly, the biggest shock for me was reading that he hated tennis. Yes, he hated the sport that gave him an exceptional career and such remarkable accomplishments. This was due to his father’s overwhelming pressure to turn his son into a champion -without consulting him in the first place.
Nonetheless, Agassi built a fascinating path as an athlete by surrounding himself with people who loved and cared for him. This is definitely one of the most endearing features of this memoir: reading about every single component of Agassi’s entourage. To imply that his team made him is certainly not an understatement.
The humanity of one of the most revered tennis players in the world is strongly evident in the issues of his heart. Agassi tells the bittersweet story of his first love and failed marriage to Brooke Shields. But then, he also crafts the heartwarming story of his love to Steffi Graff -his current wife and mother of his children.
Another highlight of this autobiography is the depiction of his rivalry with Pete Sampras -his arch nemesis. He expresses a mixture of disdain, wariness and occasionally empathy toward his more correct -and hence boring- counterpart. When you read the sections dedicated to Sampras, you can’t but appreciate the frankness of Agassi’s pen.
He makes a huge case about the real importance of winning and losing. One thing is what happens on the court, and another what happens inside your mind and your heart. The author decidedly focused in deconstructing that difference.
Agassi also offers an inspiring testimony of when he decided to give back -the real source of his happiness-, by creating a school that allows underprivileged kids to have a high-class education, which was, interestingly enough, one of the things Agassi hated with all his guts when he was a child.
Open is a very candid read. It’s sincere to the point of being painful. And it’s definitely inspiring. This marvelous book confers humanity to godlike figures like superathletes. You do not only end by liking André Agassi, but you also wish you were on any of those courts rooting for him.