Memories from the net

Here’s a very personal book review from our Deb Williams, as she remembers her childhood idol, Andre Agassi:

This isn’t just another book review. It’s a story about Andre Agassi and me. Although we have never met, I grew up idolizing him. Growing up in India, becoming an avid sports fan is the norm. When others played cricket, I chose tennis. I still remember the humid Indian summers spent pounding the courts and practicing my backhand. I did it with great enthusiasm, because like Agassi, I wanted to win a Grand Slam. And like him, while others fine-tuned their aces, I practiced returning serves. But tennis wasn’t encouraged at the time, nor was it a female sport of choice. All that, along with a sudden knee injury playing tennis, brought my career on the courts skidding to standstill.
 
But my passion for the game never diminished. Like millions of fans, I followed Agassi. I loved him for what he represented. From garish outfits to his first Wimbledon, I considered him great sportsman and a welcome change. When he cried at his last U.S. Open, I cried too. Flushing Meadows will always be André’s home.
 
A few months ago I was watching the news when the little ticker tape on the bottom announced that André’s new tell-all book revealed that he not only despised tennis, but he also had to fight a drug addiction during his professional career. My world crumbled. This man, who I looked up to, who inspired millions around the world, hated tennis — the very sport I loved so much more because of people like him and his wife, the great tennis star Steffi Graf.
 
I rushed out and got my hands on the nearest copy of André’s Open. I thirstily drank up every page. It’s a book that will break your heart and then uplift you like no other. It speaks volumes of his character. I understood that maybe even I would not have enjoyed tennis as much as I do, if I had had an oppressive father screaming in my ear every day.
 
André’s Open follows his struggle not only to find his place in the world of sport, but also himself. This rebel from Las Vegas who dropped out of school went on to become the oldest tennis player to win a Grand Slam. It is definitely a no-holds-barred book, tell-all — from teen-age sweethearts to the regimented trainer who accepted him as a son.
 
André speaks of his love for helping children and starting The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy for troubled children. He discusses his close relationship he shares with his own children. But there is one part of the book where he speaks of his addiction to drugs that will always make me see him in a tarnished light.
 
Open will leave you reaching for some Kleenex. It is a triumph for Agassi to show the world he was far from perfect. The most touching part of the book is his speech at his last U.S. Open — one I remember well.
 
“The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what I have found. Over the last twenty-one years I have found loyalty: You have pulled for me on the court, and also in life. I have found inspiration: You willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I have found generosity: You have given me your shoulders to stand on, to reach for my dreams – dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last twenty-one years I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you for the rest of my life.“
 
Deb WilliamsI do not want to give too much away, but I can say this: even though I was devastated by his statements, I know that come the summer I will still walk onto the tennis court. And as I set up to receive a serve I will spin the racquet just as Agassi did, because he was and always be one of the game’s greatest masters. I will always have tennis and tennis will always have Andre Agassi.
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