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A brilliant autobiography of tennis's most complicated player

  • Jan 1, 2010
  • by
 Open, Andre Agassi's autobiography, received a tremendous amount of press for a few shocking revelations, including:
1.  Meth use
2.  Lying to the ATP about positive drug results due to the meth use
3.  His and Graf's hatred for tennis, stemming from their somewhat psychotic fathers
4.  His use of a hairpiece to maintain the golden boy image

With Agassi, there is always overwhelming substance beyond the flash if you just bother to dig deeper -- and Open is no exception.   First, this isn't a trivial autobiography written by some pay for hire ghost writer -- Agassi had enough to say of substance that he managed to recruit a Pulitzer Prize winner, J.R. Moehringer, to do the writing.   The writing reflects this -- there is true beauty in the language and the way in which the story is told.

The true substance of the book lies not in the shocking revelations, which don't occupy much of the book -- it lies in Agassi's evolution into the man and tennis player that he became.     His insight into other players and his perception of the sport, and life in general, are profound.   For a tennis fanatic like myself, it was fascinating to learn of his ambivalent relationship to Pete Sampras, his greatest rival -- how they were almost polar opposites in everything but talent.  Agassi never really enjoyed his matches with Sampras, because Sampras had a unique ability to bring his opponent's level of play down.  Gems like this are scattered in a continual windfall throughout the book -- I recommend it for both the casual sports fan, and the dedicated tennis fan -- neither will be disappointed.

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More Open: An Autobiography reviews
review by . July 10, 2011
You know Andre Agassi. He was the punk tennis player with the 'tude who was widely hated and criticized in tennis for his outrageous shock styles and antics, calculated, of course, for the maximum exposure and attention. Sure, he turned into a fine ambassador for the sport and a respectful elder statesman who soaked up the adulation when he became the oldest tennis player to ever reach the world's top ranking, but most of us 80's babies remember that stubborn, offbeat nut who married Brooke Shields …
About the reviewer
Ari Miller ()
Ranked #107
I mostly write about my main obsession, tennis. When I'm not experimenting with new tennis racquets, I love to watch a good movie or read a great book. I'm a fan of both non-fiction (especially books … more
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From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Pro tennis could teach the mafia about omertà. Although dozens of champions have chattered away to ghostwriters, their memoirs have generally remained silent about the game's seamy realities. Presented to the public as clean family fun, an upscale entertainment for the country-club set, top-level tennis is actually played by the physical and emotional mutants of a misery machine that leaves them too ill-educated or psychically damaged to understand what has happened to their lives. Like most victims of abuse, they'd rather not talk about it. So it's both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi, who was castigated for an ad campaign saying "Image is everything," has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography. True to the genre of jock hagiography, it has its share of stock footage -- total recall of famous matches, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and an upbeat ending. But the bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity that doesn't depend on alcohol, drugs or the machinations of PR. Agassi was born in Las Vegas to a brutal Iranian immigrant, a former Olympic boxer, who forced his four children to play tennis. As a pre-schooler, Andre began hitting balls on the backyard court for hours every day. School, friends, social life and especially thinking were considered ...
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ISBN-10: 0307268195
ISBN-13: 978-0307268198
Author: Andre Agassi
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports
Publisher: Knopf
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