Cracking Yarn – “Open” by Andre Agassi

I’m not much of a tennis fan. I used to play it as a kid, but once my gargantuan mammories sprung to life, running sports very quickly took a back seat. I’ve enjoyed watching tennis sometimes, and a posh day at Wimbledon in the corporate seats was enjoyed (along with many champagnes), as well as sharing the day with the yobbos at the US Open way up in the stands. But I mainly enjoyed both because I got to perve at Pat Rafter’s legs at Wimbledon, and Venus Williams legs at the US Open. Both come highly recommended.

Anyways, I bought “Open” for Steve, ‘cos I reckon it’s the sort of book that could give him an inspired boot up the arse as he’s not so encouraged by life at the moment, and after weeks of it sitting on his bedside table, and with me needing a break from my meaning of the universe books, I decided to give it a gander.

Well let me say, this is one hell of a book. On the front cover it claims to be one of 50 books in the world you can’t put down and it is truly is. Andre is one of those public figures that many of us think we know, but we don’t. He talks a lot about the public perception of him in the media and the statements and qualities attributed to his character and fashion sense, but as he says, he didn’t even know who he was, so he sure was mystified by the facts as imparted by the media. A healthy reminder not to believe everything we read in the media once again.

His marriage to Brooke Shields was rather interesting and I’ve got to say she didn’t come across as a particularly deep or meaningful person – not blaringly stated, just inferred. When they met her star was definitely on a downward trajectory and only rose after their relationship took off. Not that he takes the credit I should point out.

The thing that really amazed me is his childhood – he was forced to play tennis before he was even born, because his father was determined that one of his children would be a world number one tennis player. A foreigner, his Dad was brutal, and I wouldn’t want a childhood like that for anything. But he talks about his relationship with his mother and father in an honest way and by the end of the book, you can see that there is a level of understanding and no judgement, but it definitely will not be the way he raises his kids.

One thing that was probably more surprising is that he hated tennis – HATED it! But he got so far along in the game that he ended up having no other options. He dropped out of school very young, and was on the road until he was 35 hitting that ball. Imagine doing something you hated for so long? Not to mention the intense physical pain he was constantly in with a back issue, but also because tennis is brutal on the body. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I read this book – yikes!

Andre is a cool dude I reckon. He’s now a loving husband and father with Steffi Graff (she prefers Stephanie by the way – another media twist), and he’s doing some amazing work in his hometown of Las Vegas, helping poor kids get a better education.

I can’t help but admire him more (even though I always liked him in the game) because he comes across as honest all the way through, eloquent even without an education and he didn’t seem to hide much – well we’ll never really know if he did, but it didn’t come across like he did. I have to say, I still don’t understand what really motivated him, you never really get that point clearly, but it sure was an impressive read and I certainly didn’t put it down.

I don’t know if it was inspirational though, but certainly an honest account of a very public life. The main point for me, that I took away from reading it is that all we should focus on is being honest to ourselves all the time, or whenever possible if you can’t do it all the time.

Yours, without the bollocks
PS: he’s a bit of a spunk don’t you think?
PPS: his hair issues were pretty interesting too.

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