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Book review #53 – Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Open‘ is not your regular sports book— actually it is totally the opposite of that. It is a very uniquely written, anti-sports book of sorts.

We have known Andre Agassi as the star athlete, the style icon and the rude crude hero on the tennis court. ‘Open’, that you can buy here, is an autobiography that shows the life of Agassi both as a champion and as a rebel. It depicts the deepness and profoundness of his character and shares his love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with tennis.

Co-crafted by J.R. Moehringer—the Pulitzer Prize winner and author of ‘The Tender Bar—Open has the same fluidity and flawlessness that is characteristic of Moehringer’s writing.

In this unusual memoir, Agassi reverberates an opposite view of the game from one espoused by athletes across the globe. He calls tennis the game of ‘loneliness,’ and shares his disdain for the game.

The story sheds light on Agassi’s excruciating relationship with his father who fed his own son ‘speed’ so he would perform better. Agassi tried to quit the game but luck (or bad luck) brought him to the spotlight.

In the book, Agassi confesses using meth. This is not something uncommon. But what startles the readers is Agassi’s few more steps towards bringing the crude truth. This includes his confession to lying about using drugs even after failing the test.

Another amazing thing about the book is that it doesn’t try to shroud Agassi’s reputation, and the volatility attached to his personality. In fact, it accepts everything with open arms and raw truth. And, then goes on to break the image that the media had created over the years.

The most astonishing revelation of the book was his struggle with his hair. Balding at a very young age and trying to conceal the fact, Agassi shares his insecurities. And, the short denim that made him famous as a rebel, was actually a last moment’s choice.

Later in the book, he continues unveiling the truth behind his life, and the glam that came with it. He talks about his not so glamorous marriage and divorce with Brooke Shields. And, then starts sharing his experience on the tennis courts.

Before reading the book, I saw tennis as a totally different game. The book has changed my view of watching a game and looking at the players. Agassi is the first one who tells you how lonely it is when you are playing on the court for hours with no interaction with the coaches or teammates. The silence, the loneliness, the game, and the competition… is all Agassi saw on the court.

 

“The rules forbid a tennis player from even talking to his coach while on the court. People sometimes mention the track-and-field runner as a comparably lonely figure, but I have to laugh. At least the runner can feel and smell his opponents. They’re inches away. In tennis, you’re on an island. Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement….”

 

What strikes me is the honesty and the sincerity with which Agassi shares his life. Nothing seems exaggerated, nothing seems made-up and nothing seems dramatised. It made me respect Andre Agassi on a whole new level. His care and loyalty to Gil and his coach are fascinating.

 

“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.”

 

Reading ‘Open’ is a unique experience. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. But most of all, it will keep you captivated. The story of Andre Agassi in the words of J.R. Moehringer is the perfect tale of stardom and the truth behind it. It mixes humor with truth and reality with the celebrity-world of courtships.

For people who love sports and are fascinated by it, ‘Open’ is a must-read book with the right dose of reality. Even if you are not a tennis fan, the strong story-telling quality of the book will keep you fascinated.

Reviewed by;

Tonny Rutakirwa,

Chairman,

Tonniez Group Holdings,

Serving since 28th December 2008.

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