Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book 90: Open

Andre Agassi’s Open is one of the frankest and most honest memoirs related to sports. But in the end, I think it was almost too open because the phrase “you should never meet your heroes since you might not like who they really are” comes to mind.

I grew up admiring Agassi. I literally started to take tennis lessons for a while due to Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf (well Stephanie but at the time it was still Steffi and she’s always Steffi to me). So when his book made the sport news shows, I knew I really wanted to read it. I didn’t get to read it right away but I finally got a chance to read it. I wanted to learn more about an athlete that I truly admired.

Because of PTI and Around the Horn, some of the most shocking elements of the book weren’t a huge surprise. But it was still amazing to realize how early he started to use a hairpiece while playing. I loved how he played with long hair-it reminded me of the rock stars and Klingons I admired- so it was crazy to think that the majority of the time I liked his hair, it was fake.

I was also a little bit shocked how often he would say he hated tennis especially since he was the player who kept coming back, playing stronger than ever and never quitting. It seemed that he was still trying to prove that he truly hated tennis. In some ways I think it’s like my relationship with the water, love/hate. I hate swimming and I’ve quit a few times, yet there is a something that keeps pulling me back to the sport. If there was only hate for the sport, I wouldn’t keep coming back and finding some joy/solace in the water. And I think truthfully that Agassi feels the same way. I don’t doubt that he hates tennis especially when he was hurting, losing and just dealing with life. But Open also shows he’s does get a certain amount of joy from the sport.

It was fascinating to see how much he fancied his second wife throughout his whole life. It’s funny that Brooke Shields used a photo of Graf to help motivate her to lose weight for their wedding. But because he fancied her so much, you can see the love he has for her. It’s a far better and more stable relationship that he had with Brooke. The book really showed why they got divorced.

There something about the book that I didn’t fully connect with. I think so much of it was getting to see too much of a person I’ve admired over the years. This isn’t a memoire where the bad things/ideas/thoughts/actions are glossed over or in some cases almost non-existence. It’s frank. It’s truthful. I respect that. But because of the honesty, I saw things about Agassi that I didn’t always like-his attitude at times and the drug use. So there is a child in me that wants to hold him the same esteem I had him in. Although after reading it, I see how much he loves his school and foundation and how that’s been very rewarding although a bit ironic. When he talks about the school or his family, that’s where I see that Andre I’ve admired.

Oh and I love Gil. The way Andre talks about his strength coach/body guard, I just think of Alexei (my favorite ballet instructor of all time). The way Gil works is strong solid conditioning and training. I wish there are more strength coaches that work like Gil. Plus Gil just seems like an amazing person.

Open is a book I would recommend to those who enjoy tennis and sports. It’s a book that lives up to its title. You can really feel like you’ve met Agassi by reading it.

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