Read this book!

February 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm 2 comments

As kids, my brother and I were tennis fans.  Not huge, know-all-the-stats fans, but we looked forward to watching Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.  On Saturday mornings – instead of cartoons – they would air the semi-finals and the finals of the tournament.  After the matches were finished, Dan and I would hit tennis balls against the concrete walls of the unfinished room of our basement.

It was the late 80’s / early 90’s, an era of big tennis names.  For the women, there was grunting Monica Seles and the two Martinas: the original Navratilova and the upstart Hingis. The seasoned Chris Evert and the rookie Jennifer Capriati.  And, of course, the player that could seemingly do no wrong: Steffi Graf.

The men were equally as famous.  Hulking Pete Sampras.  Young Michael Chang.  Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker.  McEnroe was still throwing rackets.  And the Wild Child with all that hair: Andre Agassi.

The hair may have been false, but his game was real.  In Open, his 2009 autobiography, Agassi tells us what else in his life was real or false: his professed love of the game (false), his volatile relationship with his father (true), his fairytale romance with Brooke Shields (false), and his happily ever after destiny with his true match, Stefani – Steffi – Graf (true).

Reading Open is much like watching one of Agassi’s matches: often unpredictable, sometimes inconsistent, and always fast-paced and almost frenetic in its tempo.  I was fascinated by the duality of Agassi’s personalities on and off the court, and I couldn’t help but wonder how someone so talented was racked with so much self-doubt throughout the duration of his relatively long career.

These days Agassi runs a prep academy in West Las Vegas, serving mostly low-income minority youths and preparing them for a college education.  Agassi and Graf have settled down in his hometown of Vegas, raising their two children there and promising each other that they will never strong-arm those children into playing tennis.  In one of the final passages of the book, Agassi describes an afternoon when he and Graf ventured to a nearby public court just to hit a few balls around.  As the tone of the game became more competitive, an audience quickly gathered around the court, people drawn to watch an impromptu match between two tennis greats.

If you were a fan of tennis back then, you’ll enjoy this name-dropping viewpoint from one of the “Bad Boys” of tennis.  I couldn’t put it down.

See more reviews of Open on


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anne  |  February 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Hey Amy, I tried to leave a comment on FB, but it didn’t post. Just wanted to say glad you suggested this because I’ve noticed it and have wanted to read it but keep forgetting to get it! I’m a big tennis fan!

  • 2. ~Amy  |  February 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Yea! Glad I could point you to a good read.


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