Friday 14 October 2011

The Friday Column - Open:An Autobiography By Andre Agassi - Review

Book Review - Open An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

I don't usually read autobiographies.. in fact the only one I have read is Beasts In My Belfry by Gerald Durrell and that was back in my teens. I don't really watch or follow Tennis much either. So how did I find myself in possession of a copy of Andre Agassi's autobiography Open?

I was given this to read by my brother in law (a sports fanatic) with the words ' Bettina, this is really good, you should read it'. So I did. I actually found I could not put it down.

Open is a thoroughly gripping account of Andre Agassi's (One of the most talented Tennis players ever) tennis career from the first time he picked up a racket to the very last time. I was concerned that it would be full of technical tennis terms and be dull (I am not a huge sports fan) but it turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read.

It is well written and reads fluidly. As Andre describes a match I feel the highs and the lows, his frustrations at losing and his exhilaration on winning. He manages to write in a way that I almost feel like I am in his skin, no mean feat. A good chunk of the book focuses on Andre's relationship with his father, he felt his father gave him no option but to play Tennis. Andre convinces us and anyone else who interviews him that he hates the game. He only played Tennis because he was good at it and had nothing else he could do (he didn't excel at school).

The young Agassi was packed off to a Tennis School miles from home and his family. Once again he was not given any choice in the matter and he turned into a rebellious teenager. He managed to get away with all that he did, purely because he was such a gifted player which the school relied on, much to his chagrin.

The book gives an excellent insight into his mental state with his (almost) non existent family life,  as a young man, whilst playing matches,  his friendships and romantic liaisons. I learnt that he didn't really have many friends, probably as a result from the amount of time a top player has to spend practicing, training and travelling to matches. He was constantly trying to challenge authority, even being banned from matches and tournaments for his behaviour. For all his misbehaviour, he provides a reason behind it.

Andre Agassi doesn't come across as a very likeable character or at least his personality does, only having a few close people in his network of friends and family that he depends on. I enjoyed reading about his rivalry with fellow Tennis players. Most interesting was the banter and games played with Boris Becker.

At various points in his career it seems like he is intent on pressing that self destruct button but each time finds the will and support to rise from its ashes and push himself to greater things.

Romance wise, he dated Hollywood actress Brooke Shields for a time and the relationship is described with startling honesty. Apparently he spent many years trying to get a date with Steffi Graff and this is played out in the book culminating in a wedding and two beautiful children. The few photos included in the autobiography are a real joy to see.

Open really is a warts and all, genuine account from Andre Agassi and makes for a riveting read.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this too , bought it for my OH originally!


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