March 12, 2021
Open by Andre Agassi
Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography, Sports
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Have you discovered the secret of life?
Have you ever played tennis or watched a professional match?
Andre Agassi is a celebrated professional tennis player. Andre was groomed and driven into the sport from a young age by his demanding and emotionally abusive father. Andre won his first grand slam at the age of twenty-two and his memoir traces the ups and downs of his sports career as well as his relationships with Barbara Streisand, Brook Shields, and Steffi Graf. From his memoir, we also gain insights into his ultimate pursuit of philanthropy and the creation of the Andre Agassi College Prep Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada.
TL; DR: My favorite memoir of the year! I’m thrilled to share it!
Reading Choices: There’s an overwhelming number of books to choose from every time we reach for a new read. So, why Open?
- My family watched a great deal of professional tennis in the late 1980s and the 1990s because our son played competitively. We thought it would be great fun to revisit those matches and the names we knew so well including the colorful Andre Agassi.
- It had been a while since my husband and I had enjoyed a “buddy read.” Do you buddy read with your significant other?
- We both love memoir!
Genre: My followers know that Memoir is one of my favorite genres! I especially like thoughtful memoirs that have something to offer about life….inspiration….lessons to learn and apply to your own life….poignant reflection. In Open, we hear about Andre Agassi’s ups and downs, losses and wins, loves and hates, and his philosophy of life. I guarantee that it will leave you with something to think about. Do you enjoy memoir?
Highlights: Listed below you will find a bullet list of the significant highlights/topics my husband and I discussed in our own “book club” meeting:
- establishment of a support community
- valuing the love of friends
- loyalty to family
- being your authentic self and believing in yourself
- never quitting (even though you might want to)…the first thing we learn about Agassi is that he “hates tennis”
- work ethic…no “quit” in Andre Agassi…he’s gritty and determined….always putting in the work despite injuries or defeat
- asking for help…. Agassi continually and consistently seeks out personal and professional advice
- he desires to change and grow
- a deep desire for a lasting relationship
- always pondering the meaning and purpose of his life
- he’s determined and a fearless risk taker
- exceptionally transparent and honest and candid
- coach-able in work and life, he learns from his mistakes
- he’s a dreamer
- he HATES to lose
- Agassi always “shows up” for his friends and acquaintances and for the game
- overcame a less than ideal childhood with a demanding and emotionally abusive father
- discovers the secret of life
on choosing your life:
[Even though I hate tennis] “I play and keep playing because I choose to play. Even if it’s not your ideal life, you can always choose it. No matter what your life is, choosing it changes everything.”
on helping others and the secret of life:
[helping his friend’s child who’s in the hospital] “A look of pure relief and gratitude and joy washes over her face, and in this look and in this courageous little girl, I find the thing I’ve been seeking, the philosopher’s stone that unites all the experiences good and bad of the last few years. Her suffering, her resilient smile in the face of that suffering, my part in easing her suffering, this…this is the reason for everything. How many times must I be shown. This is why we’re here, to fight through the pain and when possible to relieve that pain of others. So simple, so hard to see.”
more on helping others:
Upon giving a gift of stock to Frankie (a favorite waiter) for his son’s college education: “I didn’t understand the meaning and value of education, the hardship and stress it causes most parents and children. I’ve never thought of education like that. School was always a place I managed to escape, not a thing to be treasured. Setting aside the stock was merely something I did because Frankie specifically mentioned college, and I wanted to help. When I saw what it meant to him however, I was the one who got educated. Helping Frankie provides more satisfaction and makes me feel more connected and alive and myself than anything else that happens in 1996. I tell myself “Remember this. Hold onto this.” This is the only perfection there is. The perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting value or meaning. This is why we’re here, to make each other feel safe.”
on playing free and loose: the positive influence of his loving relationship with Steffi and his son:
“It’s easier to be [to play] free and loose, to be yourself, after laughing with the ones you love.”
(a most famous couple, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf)
on his greatest achievement:
Perhaps the most important revelation in Open is that he discovered the secret to life which is helping others (as evidenced by his charitable foundation which supports students at risk in their education and development of life skills…Andre Agassi College Prep Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada).
“Changing lives of generations of kids who maybe have not had the kind of start in life they would have wanted is the greatest achievement of my life, without any question. This has been far more fulfilling than lifting a few people who watched me play tennis for a few hours or creating some kind of on-court legacy. I mean, who cares about a legacy on the court. None of us are going to be around to appreciate a tennis legacy and when you have a chance to change a child’s life for the better, you quickly get to a point where tennis means very little.”
“The Foundation was set up with the aim of opening one school and now we have 81 schools. This is so much bigger than we would ever have imagined and we are very proud of it.”
My Favorite Part
Agassi’s most important offering of wisdom is in recognizing the persons who are willing to “stand guard” in your life and then “standing guard” for others….. Agassi surrounded himself with people who would stand guard in his life; the most significant of his persons include his dear friend (father figure) and trainer, Gil, and his wife, Steffi Graf. When I read this passage, I thought of a person who stood guard for me in my life when my son was in the hospital as a result of a serious accident. She came to the waiting room and sat there for hours (knitting and reading), assuring me that she didn’t need me to entertain her or visit with her….she simply wanted me to know that she was there (standing guard for us). I’ve never forgotten the gesture and now Andre has given me the words to describe it.
Surprising Fact: Andre’s Favorite Movie
This surprised me! Andre Agassi’s favorite movie is Shadowlands: the true love story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. Agassi shares that he wants to be Open to a relationship like theirs. When he met his future wife, Steffi Graf, she indicated that she knew of the movie and loved it, too!
“The scoreboard said I lost today. But what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments.”
“And I’ve found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on, to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.”
If you’ve never seen Andre Agassi play:
Open is highly and enthusiastically recommended for sports fans and for Tennis enthusiasts; for readers who love thoughtful, compelling, and candid memoirs; and for those who love inspirational stories and life lessons.
Open does contain a lot of tennis details.…Andre tells his story point by point. Even though I initially thought it needed a 50 page edit, I have changed my mind because every word is important in showing the grueling nature of the sport, the amount of stamina professional tennis requires, how a highly driven and competitive person deals with loss, and the depth of Andre’s determination, commitment, and grit.
The title itself has layers of meaning: the actual grand slam event called the Open…open to others….open to life….open to learning and growing….open to helping others…
Content Consideration: some profanity (PG-13)
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)
Meet the Author, Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi played tennis professionally from 1986 to 2006. Often ranked number one, he captured eight Grand Slam singles championships. Founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, he has raised more than $85 million for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for underprivileged children in Las Vegas, where he lives with his wife, Stefanie Graf, and their two children.
Is Open on your TBR or have you read it?
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