Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed Agassi’s autobio on a lot of different levels. Here’s my blurb Double A didn’t ask for. “As riveting and provocative a parenting/psychology/media studies/sports studies case study as you’ll read for a long, long time.”
Got into one of those grooves where it was very hard to put down. I like tennis and could have been decent if I was quicker, had a better backhand, could get my first serve in, and had a second serve.
I followed it more closely when Agassi, Courier, Chang, and Sampras were kicking ass nearly every weekend. Now I get excited about Federer and Nadal a few times a year.
It was fascinating to “relive” the era from Agassi’s perspective and reflect on how easy it is to misinterpret things through media lenses. Agassi was greatly misunderstood by everyone outside his inner circle.
That realization was a reminder that people’s questionable actions often make sense when we truly understand the context of their lives. The media loved to rip Agassi for not always playing up to his potential and symbolizing style over substance, but his erratic play and behavior made sense in the context of his two decade long identity crisis. And his identity crisis made sense in the context of his dad’s and Nick Bollettieri’s oppressive parenting and coaching.
My daughter didn’t understand how he ended up being thoughtful and intelligent when he left school in the eighth grade which led to a nice talk about the difference between schooling and education.
People who are not tennis fans will still find it a worthwhile read, but they may end up skimming the 10% or so where Agassi does color commentary on his own most consequential matches.
In the end, Agassi was imminently likable which only added to the overall enjoyment. Here’s hoping Stefanie, his children and him live happily ever after.