Andre Agassi’s autobiography (ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar) is not an open and shut case. It is a daunting memoir, candid, overwhelming us with larger questions of life and ambition, pinning us down to everyday details, questioning the role of parents and finally planting firmly before us the Big Question: Is it all worth it?
Agassi’s answer is no. Like his life and his tennis, Agassi’s memoir is a cri de coeur from a tortured soul. It is an anti-sport document from one of the most popular stars of our times. It is both a hate pamphlet and an appeal for children to be let alone (he will have no tennis court at home for his two children—son, Jaden, and daughter, Jaz). It is a loud manifesto for childhood.
Agassi’s story of lost childhood stands up there besides Michael Jackson’s. His Iranian father had only one ambition: to make one of his children the world’s #1 tennis champion. He stopped at nothing. Andre’s brother Phil burnt out and escaped his father. So did his sisters. But Andre was the child Agassi was waiting for: he made the little boy hit thousands of balls everyday, even inventing a machine to throw tennis balls at the child with such speed that little Agassi collapsed under the strain.
There has never been a better treatise on sport, ambition, achievement and physical pain. Who knows it all better than Agassi?