Andre Agassi's autobiography: Open

Andre Agassi's biography: OpenI guess life at the top is hard. Andre Agassi, in his recent autobiography Open, describes the unravelling that occurs at the top level as a centrifugal force that disrupts a player physically, mentally and emotionally. Incidentally, John McEnroe describes in his book Serious how he went through a fairly similar process when he was at the top.

It's funny because I've always kind of assumed I'd enjoy tennis more if I could be better and win more, but the message these guys are delivering is that the better you get and the more you win, the less you seem to enjoy it! It seems being ranked Number One is far less enjoyable than my own Infinity ranking - which leads me to wonder what the optimal world ranking is for enjoying the game. 100? 500? 10,000? If anyone knows, please let me know!

As I mentioned previously, when I first heard about Andre's drugs revelation in the book I was a bit cynical that it was just a ploy to sell more copies. Well, that may be true, but read in context it's just part of the overall psychological mess that he seems to have ended up in back in 1997 - personal, relational and professional problems piled on top of each other. As Andre reminds us repeatedly in the book, he truly hates tennis!

The rest of the book chronicles his journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance in transforming himself from that kid who hates tennis to someone who uses his God-given talent to help others. For it is in looking out for the needs of others that he finds the meaning and fulfillment that he never could in tennis itself. It's a lesson we all need to learn in one way or another, I guess.

I also found it interesting to read Andre's take on his relationship with Brad Gilbert, because I read Brad's book Winning Ugly earlier this year. Andre mostly glosses over the change to his mental approach that Brad introduced and talks about a lot in his (Brad's) book, but interestingly he does appear to credit Brad with the intervention late in 1997 that sparked his comeback to the top level. Actually Andre talks a lot in the book about how important his team was to his success - another important life lesson right there.

The book is well written (perhaps surprisingly as Andre reveals that he dropped out of high school in the ninth grade - then again he'll have had help writing it, of course) and left me with a greater insight into the pitfalls of success and fame. It's a compelling read and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone with even a passing (no pun intended) interest in tennis.

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving the book - it's one of the most self-reflective autobiographies you could want to read. Particularly so in the celebrity / sporting variety.

    He's an earnest person and one of the few stars out there I feel is worthy of the admiration and riches afforded him.

    He's also investing his fame into good works post-tennis. Bravo.

    Brett, Melbourne.