Open - Andre Agassi

THE revelation that he took recreational drugs briefly, and then lied about it so as not to lose his tennis career, has overshadowed Andre Agassi s fascinating and well-written autobiography, Open (�20, Harper Collins). That admission is just one, and not

THE revelation that he took recreational drugs briefly, and then lied about it so as not to lose his tennis career, has overshadowed Andre Agassi's fascinating and well-written autobiography, Open (�20, Harper Collins).

That admission is just one, and not even the most shocking, of the stories which make this a must-read for any sports fan.

Agassi is brutally honest about a career which saw him become the first man ever to win the Golden Slam - all four slam titles plus an Olympic gold medal.

The fellow players he dislikes, his relationship with Barbra Streisand, his brief (and reluctant) marriage to actress Brooke Shields and his obsession with losing his hair, which led him to wear a mullet hairpiece - are all stories which make for an engaging read.

But more shocking is the admission that he hated tennis and that he was the victim of parental bullying. His overbearing father forced him to play, shoving a racket into his hand as soon as he could walk, terrifying him on to the court at home in every moment he wasn't at school, then sending him away from home to Nick Bollettieri's brutal tennis boot camp where he was miserable.

Andre had no choice in the matter and as he got older he realised that, though he hated the sport, it was the only thing he was any good at. He was a tortured young man, trying to find his own identity, suffering from depression and injuries.

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Finally, he finds balance in his life with the help of his brother, his coach, his second wife, former tennis star Steff Graf, and their children. Throughout, Agassi strips bare his soul, and it's that honesty which makes this rise above many other autobiographies. Far more than just a sports story, it is sad, but, ultimately,uplifting.

- LINDSAY JONES

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