Andre Agassi was the first male tennis player to complete the Golden Slam (win all four majors: Australian, French, Wimbledon, and the US Open, along with an Olympic gold medal). During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Agassi was best known for his flamboyant dress and the hair, which he translated into an advertising campaign with Canon using the tagline, “Image is Everything”. In later years, he was considered the best returner in tennis history and his battles with Pete Sampras were usually titanic struggles between two extremes: serving and returning.
Andre has served up a hugely pleasing read with his autobiography. Brutally honest, almost to the point of being caustic – you’re introduced to Andre’s tennis life starting with his father training him to become the best tennis player ever. Growing up in Las Vegas, winning tournaments, and then moving to Florida to train at a tennis camp before dropping out of school in the ninth grade and finally turning professional at a tender age. All along the way, Andre hated tennis. A recap of some of his early professional years are included, where he met with success and failure in equal measures.
The book isn’t just about tennis though. Andre writes about important moments in his life, and the most important relationships he has had in life, both good and bad. The most important person in Agassi’s life has been his trainer Gil, who acts as a rock for Agassi throughout his life after becoming his trainer. The relationship with Brooke Shields is outlined and from Agassi’s description, it seems as if that relationship was doomed to failure after a few months.
Open is a gripping read, and the last quarter of the book or so deals with how Agassi entered his relationship with his current wife, Steffi Graf, and his late-career resurgence. Andre also writes about his new passions in life, and how he has come to terms with tennis’ role in his life. After Agassi retires, Open comes to a swift end, although Agassi’s journey in life has only removed the active professional tennis role from its list of activities. The reader is certainly left wanting more from Agassi, especially with how much access he allowed us in Open.
Simply put, Open has redefined the sports figure autobiography. The bar has been raised far above the level of every other similar work. One can only hope that future sports autobiographers take note and grant us the level of access and interesting anecdotes that Agassi granted to every one of us with Open. If you’ve enjoyed reading other autobiographies, you’d be better off not reading Open. It’ll ruin the pleasure of every other single work that attempts to reach its level and fails. But if you just want an easy-reading outstanding narrative that brings back memories of the early nineties tennis scene, or always wondered about something about Andre Agassi, definitely pick Open up!
Overall Grade: A+
Edition: Knopf, 1st ed. Deckle Edge (November, 2009)
Binding: Hardcover with dustjacket
Page Count: 400
Original Language: English
Other Notes: Autobiography – Sports (Tennis)