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Andre Agassi has written a 'tell-all' book about his life in tennis. And, it turns out, he hated tennis. That was a bigger shocker to me than the salacious fact that he was on 'crystal meth' for a year or so. J.R. Moehringer, the author of 'A Tender Bar' and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his writing was a co-author of this autobiography. Andre loved Moehringer's writing in 'The Tender Bar', and he is correct, the man's writing and the book are excellent. This book, too, is very well written and is an exceptional read.

Andre tells us that he started playing tennis at the age of 3 and by the age of 5 he was showing an aptitude for the game. He was pushed by his father-an obsessive man who pushed his son too far and too much. In fact his father felt that education was not necessary and a hindrance to his tennis practice. Andre could never tell his father how much he hated the game because it was Andre's responsibility to help his family, and that is what he did. He left school in the ninth grade, something that has bothered him his entire career. His goal was to achieve in tennis. He was enrolled in the Bollettien tennis camp, but it felt more like a prison than a camp. The academy, in Agassi's words, was "Lord of the Flies with forehands." In retaliation Andre started wearing earrings, grew his hair long and wore loud clothes. Thus his reputation was born. As his career started to flourish, Andre ,tried to keep it all together. He was known as the flamboyant player, the real player. He played the best tennis players in the world, and he was the best. He had an eye for the ball, and the 'tell' of players when they were about to hit the big one.

Andre Agassi talks about his rivals, the ones who were boring, the ones who kept it all together and the the real players; Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors The book is at its best when the game of tennis is being discussed. Each play during the tournaments and how he figured out how to win. He talks of his marriage to Brooke Shields, he never really wanted to be married, just like he never really liked to play tennis. His crystal meth years, the spiel he gave the Tennis Association when he tested positive for drugs. He finally met and married Steffi Graf and found the happiness that had so long eluded him.
He has built a life and a foundation that sponsors a charter school. He gave the first graduation speech and wowed the crowd. A ninth grade drop-out he has achieved success and fame. He has found his life and he has become Open. For anyone who loves tennis, this is a book that will be a fascinating look at the life of a giant in the tennis world and told in words that best describes him. He finally lives down his famous words 'Image Is Everything'.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 11-09-09
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on 11 November 2009
We have all read the press and watched the news; the drug allegations, the "I hate tennis". Tennis fans aren't quite sure whether they should feel cheated for all the love and support they have given Andre, to me the book set things straight.

Most of us look back at chapters of our lives and can identify with particularly unhappy periods. Andre kicks off the book with what was going through his head with the match against Baghdatis in the 2006 US Open. It is a blow by blow account of key parts of the match and a thought provoking glimpse into the mind and heart of a tennis player. He then goes straight into his childhood, the discomfort and unhappiness of being the child prodigy son of an obsessive father. There are weirdly honest stories - his grandmother tried to breastfeed him, very disturbing but a revelation of a dysfunctional upbringing. What seems to carry Andre through his childhood are friendships with his brother Phil and Perry who later becomes his manager. The importance of the childhood friendships are critical and from the way they are explained it is easy to understand why these friends are crucial figures for Andre.

The critical friendship is that of his mentor/guide/life coach/surrogate father Gill Reyes. Andre is taken under his wing and treated with the love and respect a father should treat his son, you sense through the stories in the book that now they have met each other neither could really exist happily without the other. His marriage with Brooke Shields is dealt with candidly, many will buy this book to find out what celebrities do behind closed doors. Whereas I did think Brooke appeared superficial from some of the things mentioned here, I think it merely shows how fame affects people differently. It appears that fame as a child makes people so perception orientated that perceptions are more important than anything else - who can judge the pressures these guys live through? Perfectly understandable in my opinion.

The drugs issue is dealt with here but only for a few pages in the book. The very weird thing is it doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Like most fans I was shocked and somewhat critical of the damage to his sport. But, I could understand after reading the book how stupid mistakes can be made. Off the book for a second truth is he wouldn't have got the endorsements for 10's of millions had he been suspended, or there would have been a clause in his existing deals that he would have broken had the allegations come out. However, reading the book and seeing what has been done with the money I can't help but feel it was better for everyone that nothing came out at the time.

Andre talks about his attraction to Stefanie from many years back, the courting process is just the same as you or I. We all have been through that 'has the phone just rung?' depression when expecting a call from someone we are interested in. It does feel almost story like the way they end up together, but we all have a story like this just not in the press.

Players are mentioned here all the time, the interesting one for me was Becker 'B.B. Socrates' they call him because he 'tries to appear intellectual but is just an overgrown farmboy', this is going to do nothing for Becker's ego. The rivalry with Becker seems more important than that with Sampras - who would have thought?

Another of those important times for Andre was a meeting with Mandela, a truly humbling experience for anyone. This times perfectly with the starting of his Charter school and I presume was a defining moment for him.

Overall, hey I got the book yesterday and I read 325 pages the first day this should tell you all you need to know. I felt sorry for Andre with his childhood but towards the end I understood how his father really wanted the best for everyone. Andre is surprisingly influenced by anyone he trusts - guided more by his heart than his head, he appears to live life to please for much of the book which is pretty much the way a child acts. His first marriage is what everyone else wants to see but he is developing on another level through his interactions with his trainer Gil, the goalposts are always changing as he tries understands what he wants from life. His 'hate' of tennis develops into an appreciation and respect. Throughout the book he seems to treat tennis as work, the only thing he is qualified to do. When judging his 'I hate tennis' just bear in the halo of your mind how many of us get up in the morning burning and bustling to go to our jobs - these guys are human too.

When you read this book you will see parallels between what you go through in life with what a celebrity goes through but you go through it perhaps without the press. It is incredibly well written, so well written in fact that most will not credit Andre for the writing. This is what it says it is, an autobiography not just a tennis manual. This was totally not what I was expecting, a literary masterpiece from a tennis player? A must buy for any tennis fan and a perfect Christmas present. Enjoy!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 January 2012
Sports autobiographies tend to follow a set pattern. The author rehashes the highlights of their career, maybe talks briefly about a crisis of confidence or a clash with the coach, gets a few teammates to chip in and reassure us that the writer was a terrific person. Open is completely different. It's a superb autobiography in its own right, let alone within the sports genre. Agassi exposes himself with raw candour and doesn't always come across well. He is frank about his flaws, his tantrums and his inner demons. However he is also immensely loyal to his friends and inspires tremendous loyalty in return. He is courageous, generous, honest and a hopeless romantic. I relished every page of this book.

Agassi's father was a tyrant who was determined from the day that Agassi was born that he would end up as the world's number one tennis player. Agassi was given no choice in the matter. His life was not his own to make decisions about. When he did get to the age when he could conceivably have walked away from tennis, he was in a position where it was the only thing that he was even remotely qualified for. At times reading this I was reminded of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and the way that parents can impose their values and plans onto their children. Agassi hated tennis for almost all of the time that he was playing it. Moreover, he never really learned to function as an adult - needing several people in his life to direct him and support him at all times.

His life is a fascinating mix of good decisions and bad decisions. Finding the right people to steer him in the right direction. Almost undoing it all by adopting an unprofessional attitude. Getting married despite serious misgivings. Later finding someone who genuinely seems to "complete" him. At times his propensity for self-sabotage seems overwhelming. But thankfully, it's a happy ending.

A fascinating, thought provoking, absorbing book. Tennis fan or not, you should read it.
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on 4 January 2010
As a keen tennis enthusiast - I have been an avid follower of Agassi's long career from brash Las Vegas maverick to elder statesmen of the sport. The journey in between the two extremes is one compelling told, in honest and often uncompromising fashion. From having a racket thrust in his hand as a child by the tennis parent from hell - to grand slam glory, the peaks and trough's are vividly recollected.
As a player who spent three seperate decades as a top ten player in arguably tennis's greatest era, he battled it out with Connors, Mcenroe and Lendl - Becker, Edberg and Wilander all the way through to Federer and Nadal. Having seen many of the games he recounts - it is fascinating to get an inside perspective of the mind games that go on, and sometimes represent a wafer thin line between success and failure. Many of those struggles occured with eternal rival, Pete Sampras across the net - "There was always Pete", Agassi laments throughout.
His personal turmoils frequently affected the outcome on court - and his assertion that he hated tennis, is a paradox that seems to fuel the battle with his inner demons. The problematic and tense relationship with his father undoubtedly shaped his future - but Agassi's strength of character dictated that things would invariably be done in his way.
He is surprisingly candid about his relationships with Brooke Shields and Steffi Graf, and how each of them contributed to his performances on court for good or bad.
Throughout his career Agassi has been his own greatest opponent - and surely had he possessed a temperament of a Borg, Sampras or Federer, would have won twice as many Grand Slams. A complex character no doubt, but one with heart and generosity as in his retirement, Agassi has set up an Academy to provide education and opportunity for under priveleged children in Las Vegas - having missed much of his schooling it is a subject close to his heart, ensuring that his tennis legend will provide a legacy for generations to come.
Serious: The AutobiographyStrokes of Genius: Federer v Nadal, Rivals in Greatness
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on 9 January 2010
I was bought this book as a Christmas present. Not because I love tennis - I don't - but because it was given a great review in The Times. I am so glad for that review, because I could have easily missed this. Don't miss this. In our current celebrity culture it is wise not to waste valuable time on the drivel that masquerades as autobiography but this book is a rare exception. Other reviewers tell you what's in the pages so I won't duplicate their information but what I do want to say is that I felt like the guy was sitting talking to me at my kitchen table and he was looking me straight in the eye as he did. I enjoyed his company very much.
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on 25 March 2015
I have owned this book for years and it wasn’t until a friend asked for book donations for charity, that I took it down from the shelf to donate without reading it. But I snuck a peak inside and wow! I was hooked. This was NOT donated.

Before this book, all I ever knew about Andre Agassi was that he was an elite champion athlete, was married to Brooke Shields for a short time, and then married Stefanie Graf. Whenever I heard him interviewed on TV after a tennis match, he sounded intelligent, young, sweet and innocent, even though he was ruthless, tactical and unstoppable on court.

I had no idea what an inspiring, amazing, thoughtful, humble, determined man, Andre Agassi is. Oh, and romantic. I really enjoyed reading about his courtship of Stefanie Graf.

What a well written book. It is fascinating, enlightening, heart-breaking, heart-warming, and loving. Andre and Stefanie Agassi have learned from their own and their parents’ mistakes. In their ‘retirement’ they now focus more on a positive way of raising and educating their own, and hundreds of children in their inspirational school. Andre and Stefanie are finally doing what they are far more passionate about than tennis.

Tennis is gruelling, punishing, all consuming and humbling. The physical and mental punishment taken by Andre’s body throughout his tennis career is painful to read about. The mental pressure is extreme. To be fair, he observes this equal suffering in some of his opponents on the tennis court. And he never says: “Poor me.” His relationships, whether positive or ending disappointingly, are painted with a respectful brush, acknowledging that it is all part of life.

Life’s experiences are not wasted on this man. He converts his learning into a philosophical wisdom and forward thinking about life and the future of children. He puts his star power and positive beliefs back into his school’s children – a brilliant investment.

This book lives up to its name. It is honest and open. Andre has courage to write an autobiography this way.

I loved reading about his devotion for Stefanie Agassi. His worship of her appeals to the romantic in me.

A scene he describes in the book, however, that will never leave me is a moment in time after one of his final matches. He and Marcos Baghdatis are lying on massage beds side by side. A little gesture, with enormous meaning, by both of them leaves me with happy tears when I think about it. True sportsmanship. Love and respect for a fellow combatant. That scene is magic.

This book is fantastic, and I highly recommend it for an uplifting, inspiring read. It is back on my shelf. It’s a keeper. The last few chapters will inspire me in tough times. I love his arguments about forming and transforming. He is right.

Blessed are the people who have Andre and Stefanie Agassi for friends.
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on 14 January 2010
I can only echo most of the reviews here. This is the best insight into a top tennis players life I've read so far. Despite the hubris in the press regarding the revelations it's not a sensationalist book but appears to be a deeply felt look back on what was a fascinating career.
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on 11 December 2009
I know very little about tennis but have read many biographies. This is the best sporting biog. I have ever read.
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on 12 January 2010
I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this book! I read the newspaper serialisations and thought it was awful!!!! it seemed so simplistic and almost childlike - then I read the book itself - it's brilliant. totally gripped me from the start - the fact that this little child hated tennis and was basically forced to play on and on. I've never understood the agassi myth - barbara streisand at wimbledon always seemed so bizare - but this finally makes it make sense. what a roller coaster of a life. what a price sport can take from you. great read.
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on 4 December 2009
I am a big reader of fiction but seldom read sport autobiographies/biographies. However I thought I would give this one a go based on the guy being such an icon in tennis.
This book is an enjoyable insight into Agassi's life, from his childhood hate of tennis to his off court adventures. Obviously most important of all we get a descriptive look back at a tennis career that had huge highs and many lows.
The books keeps a good pace making you want to read more, sometimes it falls into listing one tournament after another but being a tennis book, how could it not ! I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone, whether you love tennis or not.
Only small criticism I had was that there were very pictures, especially of Agassi with racket in hand. For such a glittering career he should not hesitate to show everyone visually what he achieved in the book as well.
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