113 of 119 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Open: An Autobiography (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Nov 2009 16:26:01 GMT
As far as I know, the text is written by J. R. Moehringer based on recorded interviews with Agassi.
Posted on 16 Nov 2009 12:37:36 GMT
Lili Johansen says:
I love tennis i will order this book when I come home from winterholiday.
Posted on 19 Nov 2009 07:36:24 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Nov 2009 07:37:05 GMT
Paul Maddren says:
Brilliant detail. Thanks I'll get it for my wife for Christmas!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2009 01:16:33 GMT
Thank you, your wife will appreciate the gift. Try to read it yourself too, it's a great read. All my best.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Nov 2009 01:18:32 GMT
Check out the youtube videos of agassi being interviewed by David Letterman, Ellen Degeneres etc. about the book. Great little things to watch. Happy Holidays!
Posted on 31 Dec 2009 13:55:27 GMT
J. A. Hill says:
I thought this review was great i too read the book and was pleased he did something useful with his money and fame. he would have been on a child protection register nowadays surely if he was experiencing treatment like that from his father?? The drugs issue didn't bother me either I work in social care so am not phased by this - however the one issue I would like to mention is that one of his words to describe Rafael Nadal was "freak" I would dispute that vehemently. I was also a fan of Ivan Lendl so his account of meeting Lendl in the changing room at Wimbledon? made me smile
Posted on 25 Mar 2015 00:33:06 GMT
This is a fantastic well-balanced review. Thank-you very much.
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