Andre Agassi hates tennis. His autobiography, Open, sucked me in right away because I believe in the power of acknowledging, and then sharing, your core truths.
“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love…”
Reading about his lifelong struggle to reconcile his innate physical ability with his hatred of the path his father predetermined for him is fascinating. This is a story about surviving and learning how to get out of your own way in order to succeed.
“Hate brings me to my knees, love gets me on my feet.”
It’s also a story about coincidences. A childhood friend tells Agassi that he will one day be with Brooke Shields. It comes to pass. Agassi’s father sends him to tennis camp because of a 60 Minutes segment and years later, a 60 Minutes segment on charter schools inspires Agassi to dedicate his foundation to education. I appreciate Agassi’s attention to omens and superstitions and how he lets us in on his inner dialogue. I’ve never actually heard him speak, but when he writes about an opponent’s serve that only misses by a “bee’s dick,” or a lion’s eyes being “the color of lemon-lime Gatorade,” it’s easy to get a sense of his voice.
“A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last long as the bad. Not even close.”
When Agassi realizes that perfectionism is a tool he can discard or use on his own terms, his ah-ha moment makes me want to examine what’s in my own mental toolbox. Nearly every win or loss happens in his head and reliving those matches through his succinct storytelling is way more satisfying than if I’d watched them live.
“This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others.“
You don’t have to care about tennis to enjoy Open. You have to care about fighting your demons (along with society’s expectations) and finding your purpose. For everyone who is searching for what they are meant to do and not afraid of the cubic hours of work it takes to get there, Open is for you.