I was never a big Andre Agassi fan. He seemed like just another spoiled brat, pouting on the court. Plus I didn’t like his hair. Though I enjoyed playing tennis, I didn’t like to watch it. So I ignored him for years… until he married one of my classmates from college. I admit to a prevailing curiosity about how people end up together, and the idea of Brooke being attracted to him made me wonder what he was really like…. I paid even more attention when they got divorced. Then nothing. Then I heard he was happily married to Steffi Graf and had children who appeared in some funny TV ads (for mini-vans? I don’t know).
Then his memoir OPEN evoked positive reviews, and I couldn’t resist.
Now I actually like the guy. His story–how he was more or less forced to play tennis from a young age and became great at it, somewhat ambivalently–is rich with fascinating details and insights into what it’s like to be a professional athlete while trying to be a genuine human being at the same time.
While I believe Agassi is probably a decent writer on his own, he notes that this book benefited from the deft touch of J. R. Moehringer (whose own memoir, THE TENDER BAR, might warrant its own installment in this blog). Agassi gives him a moving tribute in the Acknowledgments. He says he asked Moehringer repeatedly to put his name on the book: “He felt, however, that only one name belonged on the cover. Though proud of the work we did together, he said he couldn’t see signing his name to another man’s life. These are your stories, he said, your people, your battles….” Moehringer is a classy, generous guy, and he and Agassi have definitely produced something worth paying attention to.