Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review - Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Title: Open: An Autobiography 
Author: Andre Agassi
Year: 2009
Page: 388
Genre: Non-Fiction - memoir / autobiography

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Maybe
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
A stunning memoir by one of the world’s most beloved athletes—a nuanced self-portrait, an intensely candid account of a remarkable life, and a thrilling inside view of the pro tennis tour. 

First Sentence:
I open my eyes and don't know where I am or who I am.  

Why did I pick this book?
I enjoy reading memoir. I have heard that this is a brutally honest memoir. While I am not a big tennis fan (don't watch it anymore), I used to watch quite a bit of tennis, especially the Australian Open when I lived there - and that was exactly when Agassi, Sampras, Graf, Seles were at the top of the rankings. I read Seles' memoir, Getting A Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, last year and enjoyed it - brought back memories of the games and found new respect for tennis players. So why not give this one a try?

My thoughts:
  • I have to admit, during the Agassi Vs Sampras rivalry, I preferred Sampras - I liked that he was quiet and not flashy, seemed well mannered and nice. Well some called him dull and boring, but hey he was a tennis player not a Hollywood star! In contrast, Agassi seemed like such a bad boy with the funny hair and loud mouth. Now that I'd read his memoir, it could be said that he was misunderstood. I won't spoil it for you about what he revealed about his hair (if you haven't already heard from TV talk shows!) Let's just say that I would have never guessed!
  • I didn't know that his father was born in Iran, and he came to the US illegally, and Americanized his name.
    • He was really quite honest about his childhood and tennis career. While some may not like that he badmouthed some other players and Brooke Shields and their marriage, he also had nice things to say about other players too so it wasn't just all negative. Oh, I didn't know Brooke Shields' middle name is Christa!
    • I am not good at any sports, and had no idea how brutal tennis could be physically (well apart from seeing players having to play in extremely hot weather in Australia sometimes). I mean, they physically had to be hoisted onto a trainer table after a tough match because they couldn't move (but they still looked like they were fine at the end of the match!)
    • It was interesting to read about how Agassi read his opponents - like where they were going to served by the little gestures they unknowingly did (where they looked, how long they looked, where their tongue pointed etc), and how his coach helped him analyzed how to tackle the next player (their strengths, weaknesses, what it means if they started playing like this or that...)
    • It was fun to see how he matured over time, and I think Graf really is good for him. It sounds like they have a great relationship. And his children changed him and his outlook (now, I don't really like that he started pursuing Graf when he hadn't even divorced Shields yet... but that's besides the point. I hope Shields didn't get too upset about how he talked about their marriage... it sounded like they had some great things going in the beginning, and then they just grew apart and probably both were at fault)
    • I was touched by his farewell speech. And admired the charter school he has built for disadvantaged children, even though he dropped out in 9th grade himself.
    • While this wasn't the best memoir I'd read, I enjoyed reading it. It made me want to watch highlights of the games he mentioned (though they could get a bit repetitive and long, but he had an amazingly long career, so it's a fine balance how much to include and how much to omit). It showed us a side we didn't know about him - especially since he lied quite a bit throughout his career, to please his fans and father properly.  

      It is no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. (p8)

      "Que lindo es sonar despierto, he says. How lovely it is to dream while you are awake. Dream while you're awake, Andre. Anybody can dream while they're asleep, but you need to dream all the time, and say your dreams out loud, and believe in them." (p155)

      Her suffering, her resilient smile in the face of that suffering, my part in easing her suffering -- this, this is the reason for everything. How many times must I be shown? This is why we're here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others. So simple. So hard to see. (p256)

      Rating: 3.5 Stars

      Have you read this book? 
      If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

      100+ Reading
      Memorable Memoir


      1. I followed the tennis scene back in Agassi days, but the new ones now. and I have always been fascinated with Boris Becker and Agassi.

        Now that you mentioned it, I do want to read this book. I always wonder how a flamboyant guy like him ended up with straight-faced Steffi, especially when you have two professional world class tennis players at home and being competitive, that seems to spell disaster for a long term marriage! :)

      2. Dont know much about the new tennis pros, I mean.

      3. I enjoyed your review and liked a lot of the same things in the book.

      4. As this book was released I said the same thing as when Seles' book was released: Oh I want to read those. It took me quite a while to get to Seles' book and Agassi is still on my TBR list. As I was reading Seles' book I again decided for myself that I wanted to read Agassi soon. I'm really interested to read it so I will be on the lookout for it! Thanks for the link to this review and of course for your comment on mine about Seles' book.
        I see you are currently reading Steve Job's book, seems like another great read :)

        1. cessie - I actually like Agassi's book more than Seles', as he was very honest and raw about how he felt (not that Seles' wasn't honest) - I guess it was a more emotional read, and I didn't expect to hear a few things he shared (I didn't know much about his history at all.) I think you'd enjoy it. Hubby is an apple fan, so we're reading the Job's book together, but I had to wait to borrow it from the library again!