Monday, December 19, 2016
Open-An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi is a tennis player. One of the very best of all time. Andre Agassi hates tennis. In the preface to the book, he writes that he has always hated tennis. He will admit, however, that tennis has been pretty good to him.
There is a positive note to his tortured life. His foundation has raised more than $ 85 million for a school for underprivileged children in Las Vegas. Naturally, the school is named “The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy”. The road he took to establish the school had its twists and turns. This autobiography will take you down that road, warts and all.
His father moved the family to Las Vegas, so that he could build a court to teach his son the game. When Agassi was four, he was hitting balls with tennis greats as they passed through Las Vegas, beginning with Jimmy Connors. Agassi's father strung rackets for the great players.
Mike Agassi was born in Iran, and had represented that country at the Olympic Games, as a boxer. He worked in Vegas as a casino captain, seating people at the shows. When he is not at the casino, he is obsessed with the notion that his son must become the best tennis player in the world. He arranges tennis matches against celebrities passing through Vegas for Andre, when Andre was nine. A match against Jim Brown, one of the greatest running backs of all time in the NFL, as an example. For ten thousand dollars. They settled for $ 500, and Andre won easily, 6-2.
Andre remembers harrowing rides with his father. If someone bumped his fender, Mike Agassi would fly out of the vehicle and fight the other driver. If there was an incident of road rage, his father would open the glove box, remove his pistol and aim it at the head of the other driver.
Agassi moved to Florida in his early teens to improve his game, attending the Bollettieri Academy. There is constant pressure, and the competition is intense against the best young players from around the world. He hates the place, but realizes it is the best place to improve his game.
Then begins a series of adventures through the tennis world, with the end result that Agassi becomes the number one player in the world. He is pitted against Boris Becker, Patrick Rafter, and his arch rival, Pete Sampras. He is paired with some very impressive ladies: Barbara Streisand, Brooke Shields etc. In fact, he was married for two years to Shields. He dabbled in illicit drugs, and was suspended for a time.
It is easy to group him with many of the other spoiled tennis brats that have taken the courts over the years: Connors, McEnroe, Ille Nastasse. During his career, tennis became entertainment, moving from the dignified days of Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, Cliff Drysdale, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe, and Lew Hoad.
To conclude, it appears as if Agassi and his family are now on the right track. He and his wife, also a former number one player, Steffi Graf, are in the process of raising two children. (Agassi says that he does not care if they play tennis.) They are busy with the administration and fund-raising for the school.
A phoenix from the ashes.
This book is now in the Wellington Public Library. Enjoy.
December 19, 2016.