“Open” by Andre Agassi

Read from December 2009 till February 2010.

Open is Andre Agassi‘s autobiography.  The book was ghost-written by J.R. Moehringer but the material was provided through a series of recorded interviews with Andre.  I cannot talk about this book without explaining how it relates to me.

I have followed Andre Agassi since I was seven years old and first learned to play tennis.  Andre was a childhood idol of mine.  Him, and David Duchovny (yes I was a huge X-Files fan) were my childhood idols.  Both for different reasons.  Andre for his baseline game that rebelled from traditional tennis.  David for being a Princeton alumni (basketball “scholarship”) and Yale doctoral candidate prior to joining Hollywood – essentially being a highly educated actor.  And yet, as an adult, only Andre Agassi remains as an idol.  And for a very different reason: his commitment to philanthropy and dedication to the “process vs the outcome” philosophy in tennis and in life.

I was familiar with much of Andre’s childhood and his upbringing.  I was also familiar with his career since turning professional through his retirement.  But reading these same events told through his eyes provided a dimension to my understanding of him that did not exist before.

Just as publicly we all watched Andre’s tennis mature, Open sheds light on how Andre himself matured through his career.  I will never forget some of his classic matches, but this book recounts them from his perspective, which just cannot be beaten.  Hopefully I will be able to buy a collector’s edition to the matches described in Open simply because they are so well detailed in the book that I want to see those matches again.

Many other book reviews exist for this story so I don’t need to try to repeat them.  I simply want to remember how much this story meant to me.  It is so rare that a childhood idol can remain one in adulthood. Watching today’s tennis stars and seeing how they have all been influenced by Andre makes his legacy even longer.  He truly straddled three generations of tennis players and with his return of serve and ground-stroke precision changed how the game is played.

Quite simply, Open is more than an autobiography.  It doubles as a self-help book through the eyes of one of America’s most public athletes – to help identify what is important in life and how to choose what you want out of it.

I also recommend watching his final goodbye to tennis and his introduction to his wife to the Tennis Hall of Fame.  Both are embedded below:

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