Open by Andre Agassi

Overall Thoughts:

For the first half of the book, I wasn't sure if I would like it. It seemed to go into too much details. But as I got to know Andre better, I wanted to just follow along his journey. It's almost like following a TV show. The near the last quarter of the book, where he and Brooke broke up and he got back to the game, was the turning point for me. The book became really interesting from there. I throughly enjoyed the last quarter of the book.

I was quite touched by Andre's formation. I felt honor to be able to follow his journey — seeing him going from someone who was lost and trying to find love and the focus of his life, to gradually gathered a group of caring and loving friends around him, to eventually found himself and the anchor of his life.

I'm inspired by his resilience in the game and life, the way he loves and treasures people around him, and his openness and honesty. It's very interesting to see his struggle against the world and himself, his hate-love and dependent relationship with tennis.

In the end, I enjoyed the book so much that I was tempted to read/listen to it all over again. It's an amazing story and I'm grateful for Andre sharing it with the world so openly.

Many of the lessons from the book resonate with me. I'm glad I read it.

Calling him Andre since after the book, I feel like he is an old friend of mine.

Quotes & Thoughts:


“Andre, I won't ever try to change you, because I've never tried to change anybody. If I could change somebody, I'd change myself. But I know I can give you structure and a blueprint to achieve what you want. There's a difference between a plow horse and a racehorse. You don‘t treat them the same. You hear all this talk about treating people equally, and I'm not sure equal means the same. As far as I'm concerned, you're a racehorse, and I'll always treat you accordingly. I'll be firm, but fair. I'll lead, never push. I'm not one of those people who expresses or articulates feelings very well, but from now on, just know this: It's on, man. It is on. You know what I'm saying? We're in a fight, and you can count on me until the last man is standing. Somewhere up there is a star with your name on it. I might not be able to help you find it, but I've got pretty strong shoulders, and you can stand on my shoulders while you're looking for that star. You hear? For as long as you want. Stand on my shoulders and reach, man. Reach.” - Ch. 11 Gil to Andre.

I'm so touched by Gil's words and the deep relationship between Gil and Andre. It's such a blessing to have someone who supports and cares about you so deeply and you care about them the same way in return. I want to form such relationships with people in my life. I think that's part of the meaning and the point of life. I'm grateful for having friends whom I can see to form such a relationship with. 🙂

I won't ever try to change you, because I've never tried to change anybody. If I could change somebody, I'd change myself.

This is definitely something I should learn.


"Above all I told her that it would be dangerous to surrender to fear. Fears are like gateway drugs, I said. You give in to a small one, and soon you’re giving in to bigger ones. So what if she didn’t want to perform? She had to. “ - Ch. 14 Andre Agassi


I'm intimidated by the fact that Brooke graduated from Princeton with a degree in French literature, whereas I dropped out of ninth grade. Gil brushes aside such talk, pumps up my confidence.
Besides, he says, don't worry about whether she likes you. Worry about whether you like her.

We all have our vulnerable and insecure sides. Without reading this book, I wouldn't have guessed Agassi would feel inferior when he compares himself with someone he is interested in. I mean he is Andre Agassi!!

"don't worry about whether she likes you. Worry about whether you like her." 👏👏👏 Well said, Gil!


We bond over one recent movie, Shadowlands, the story of British writer C. S. Lewis. I tell Brooke that the movie struck a chord with me. There was Lewis’s close relationship with his brother. There was his sheltered life, walled off from the world. There was his fear of risk and the pain of love. But then one singularly brave woman makes him see that pain is the price of being human, and well worth it. In the end Lewis tells his students: Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. He tells them: We are like blocks of stone … [T]he blows of His chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. - Ch. 14


But you’ve lost the fire you had when you were sixteen. That kid, taking the ball early, being aggressive, what the hell happened to that kid?

No need to be perfect.

Brad says my overall problem, the problem that threatens to end my career prema-turely—the problem that feels like my father’s legacy—is perfectionism.
You always try to be perfect, he says, and you always fall short, and it fucks with your head. Your confidence is shot, and perfectionism is the reason. You try to hit a winner on every ball, when just being steady, consistent, meat and potatoes, would be enough to win ninety percent of the time.
...
Quit going for the knockout, he says. Stop swinging for the fences. All you have to be is solid. Singles, doubles, move the chains forward. Stop thinking about yourself, and your own game, and remember that the guy on the other side of the net has weaknesses. Attack his weaknesses. You don’t have to be the best in the world every time you go out there. You just have to be better than one guy. Instead of you succeeding, make him fail. Better yet, let him fail. It’s all about odds and percentages. You’re from Vegas, you should have an appreciation of odds and percentages. The house always wins, right? Why? Because the odds are stacked in the house’s favor. So? Be the house! Get the odds in your favor. Right now, by trying for a perfect shot with every ball, you’re stacking the odds against yourself. You’re assuming too much risk. You don’t need to assume so much risk. Fuck that. Just keep the ball moving.
Back and forth. Nice and easy. Solid. Be like gravity, man, just like motherfucking gravity.
When you chase perfection, when you make perfection the ultimate goal, do you know what you’re doing? You’re chasing something that doesn’t exist. You’re making everyone around you miserable. You’re making yourself miserable. Perfection? There’s about five times a year you wake up perfect, when you can’t lose to anybody, but it’s not those five times a year that make a tennis player. Or a human being, for that matter. It’s the other times. It’s all about your head, man.
With your talent, if you’re fifty percent game-wise, but ninety-five percent head-wise, you’re going to win. But if you’re ninety-five percent game-wise and fifty percent head-wise, you’re going to lose, lose, lose. Again, since you’re from Vegas, put it this way. It takes twenty-one sets to win a slam. That’s all. You need to win just twenty-one sets. Seven matches, best of five. That’s twenty-one. In tennis, like cards, twenty-one’s a winner. Blackjack! Focus on that number, and you won’t go wrong. Simplify, simplify. Every time you win a set, say to yourself, That’s one down. That’s one in my pocket. At the start of a tournament, count backward from twenty-one. That’s positive thinking, see? Of course, speaking for myself, when I’m playing blackjack, I’d rather win with sixteen, because that’s winning ugly. No need to win with twenty-one. No need to be perfect.- Ch. 15


I see Lupica’s column is about me. I shouldn’t read it, but I do. He writes that the U.S. Open is mine to lose, but you can count on the fact that I will find a way to lose it.
Agassi, Lupica writes, simply isn’t a champion.
I close the paper and feel as if the walls are closing in, as if my vision is narrowing to a pinprick. Lupica sounds so sure, as if he’s seen the future. What if he’s right? What if this is it, my moment of truth, and I’m revealed to be a fraud? If it doesn’t happen now, when will I have another chance to win the U.S. Open? So many things have to fall your way. Finals don’t grow on trees. What if I never win this tournament? What if I always look back on this moment with regret? What if hiring Brad was a mistake? What if Brooke is the wrong girl for me? What if my team, so carefully assembled, is the wrong team?
Gil looks up and sees me turning white.
What’s wrong?
I read him the column. He doesn’t move.
"I’d like to meet that Lupica one day", he says.
Agassi: "What if he’s right?"
Gil: "Control what you can control."
Agassi: "Yeah."
Gil: "Control what you can control." - Ch. 15


Helping Frankie provides more satisfaction and makes me feel more connected and alive and myself than anything else that happens in 1996. I tell myself: Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting value or meaning. This is why we’re here. To make each other feel safe. - Ch. 19

I'm impressed by how much Agassi cares for the people in his life, especially knowing how his dad treated him growing up.

He ends up surrounded by great people with whom he has profound and long-lasting relationships with. Consider how much he cares about others, it makes sense and he totally deserves them.


So what if you hate tennis? Who cares? All those people out there, all those millions who hate what they do for a living, they do it anyway. Maybe doing what you hate, doing it well and cheerfully, is the point. So you hate tennis. Hate it all you want. You still need to respect it—and yourself. - Ch. 20 Brad to Agassi


Change & Momentum from the past

Time to change, Andre. You can’t go on like this. Change, change, change—I say this word to myself several times a day, every day, while buttering my morning toast, while brushing my teeth, less as a warning than as a soothing chant. Far from depressing me, or sham-ing me, the idea that I must change completely, from top to bottom, brings me back to center.
For once I don’t hear that nagging self-doubt that follows every personal resolution. I won’t fail this time, I can’t, because it’s change now or change never. The idea of stagnating, of remaining this Andre for the rest of my life, that’s what I find truly depressing and shameful.
And yet. Our best intentions are often thwarted by external forces—forces that we ourselves set in motion long ago. Decisions, especially bad ones, create their own kind of momentum, and momentum can be a bitch to stop, as every athlete knows. Even when we vow to change, even when we sorrow and atone for our mistakes, the momentum of our past keeps carrying us down the wrong road. Momentum rules the world. Momentum says: Hold on, not so fast, I’m still running things here. As a friend likes to say, quoting an old Greek poem: The minds of the everlasting gods are not changed suddenly. - Ch. 21


I tell him I’m done with drugs, I’ll never touch them again, but it goes without saying. He knows this as well as I do. He clears his throat, thanks me for being honest, then pushes it all aside. Where you’ve been, he says, doesn’t matter. From now on, we’re all about where you’re going. - Ch. 21 Gil to Agassi


I’m ranked number 141 in the world, the lowest I’ve been ranked in my adult life, the lowest I’ve dreamed of being ranked. Sportswriters say I’m humbled. They love saying this. They couldn’t be more wrong. I was humbled in the hotel room with Brad. I was humbled smoking meth with Slim. Now I’m just glad to be out here.
...
Brad is undiscouraged. Some technique will need relearning, he says. Shot selection, for instance. You need to retrain that muscle with which a tennis player decides in the heat of battle that this shot is the right one and that shot is the wrong one. You need to remember that it doesn’t matter if you hit the best shot in the world—remember? If it’s the wrong moment, it’s the wrong shot.
Every shot is an educated guess
, and I’m no longer educated. I’m as green as I was in juniors. It took me twenty-two years to discover my talent, to win my first slam—and only two years to lose it. - Ch. 21


I think about something Mandela said once in an interview: No matter where you are in life, there is always more journey ahead. And I think of one of Mandela’s favorite quotes, from the poem Invictus, which sustained him during those moments when he thought his journey had been cut short: I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. - Ch. 21


After dinner Mandela stands and gives a stirring talk. His theme: we must all care for one another—this is our task in life. But also we must care for ourselves, which means we must be careful in our decisions, careful in our relationships, careful in our statements. We must manage our lives carefully, in order to avoid becoming victims. I feel as if he’s speaking directly to me, as if he’s aware that I’ve been careless with my talent and my health. - Ch. 21


After dinner Mandela stands and gives a stirring talk. His theme: we must all care for one another—this is our task in life. But also we must care for ourselves, which means we must be careful in our decisions, careful in our relationships, careful in our statements. We must manage our lives carefully, in order to avoid becoming victims. I feel as if he’s speaking directly to me, as if he’s aware that I’ve been careless with my talent and my health. - Ch. 21

He talks about racism, not just in South Africa but around the world. It’s nothing but ignorance, he says, and education is the only remedy. In prison, Mandela spent his few free hours educating himself. He created a kind of university, and he and his fellow prisoners were professors to each other. He survived the loneliness of constant confinement by reading; he especially loved Tolstoy. One of the harshest punishments his guards devised was taking away his right to study for four years. Again his words seem to shimmer with personal relevance. I think of the work Perry and I have undertaken in Vegas, our charter school, and I feel invigorated. Also embarrassed. For the first time in many years I’m acutely aware of my lack of education. I feel the weight of this lack, the misfortune of it. I see it as a crime in which I’ve been complicit. I think of how many thousands in my hometown are victims of this crime right now, deprived of an education, unaware how much they’re losing. - Ch. 21


A friend later shows me a passage in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Death in the Family, in which a woman deep in mourning thinks:
Now I am more nearly a grown member of the human race … she thought that she had never before had a chance to realize the strength human beings have, to endure; she loved and revered all those who had ever suffered, even those who had failed to endure.
This is close to what I feel as I leave Mandela. This is what I think when the helicopter lifts away from his compound. I love and revere those who suffer, who have ever suffered. I am now more nearly a grown member of the human race.
God wants us to grow up.
- OPEN by Andre Agassi / Ch. 21

Surprisingly, this is also something I have been thinking about recently. I never have much interested in what's going on in the society, I don't feel a connection between me and the broader world/society. But recently, I gradually realize how much we depend on each other. As a human race, we all want it to survive. Everything is a system: individual → a team → a company → a nation → a race. The larger a system gets, the more complicated it is and the more challenging it is to keep the system running efficiently (define efficiency however you like). I find this fascinating. I then get very interested in history, politics, and all other subjects all the sudden.

I'm now feel I'm part of the human race and responsible to contribute to it. The coronavirus is a wakeup call for me as well. It's inspiring to see how some people contribute with their knowledge. It also reminds me how fragile we are and how much we need each others.


Agassi: "He’s too good, Brad. He’s just too good. I can’t beat him. This fucker is six-five, serving bombs, never missing. He’s hurting me with his serve, he’s hurting me with his backhand, I can’t get back in the point on his serve. I don’t have this."
Brad says nothing...
I yell at Brad: Are you kidding me? You’re going to pick this moment, of all moments, to decide not to talk? Of all times, this is the moment you’re finally going to shut the hell up?
He stares. Then starts screaming. Brad, who never raises his voice to anybody, comes apart.
Brad: "What do you want me to say, Andre? What is it that you want me to say? You tell me he’s too good. How the fuck would you know? You can’t judge how he’s playing! You’re so confused out there, so blind with panic, I’m surprised you can even see him. Too good? You’re making him look good."
Agassi: "But—"
Brad: "Just start letting go. If you’re going to lose, at least lose on your own terms. Hit the fucking ball."
Agassi: "But—"
Brad: "And if you’re not sure where to hit it, here’s an idea. Just hit it to the same place he hits it. If he hits a backhand crosscourt, you hit a backhand crosscourt. Just hit yours a little better. You don’t have to be better than the whole fucking world, remember? You just have to be better than one guy. There isn’t one shot he has that you don’t have. Fuck his serve. His serve will break down when you start making your shots. Just hit. Just fucking hit. If we’re going to lose today, fine, I can live with it, but let’s lose on our terms. The last thirteen days, I’ve seen you lay it on the line. I’ve seen you rip it, under pressure, maim guys. So please stop feeling sorry for yourself, and stop telling me he’s too good, and for the love of God stop trying to be perfect! Just see the ball, hit the ball. Do you hear me, Andre? See the ball. Hit the ball. Make this guy deal with you. Make him feel you out there. You’re not moving. You’re not hitting. You may think you are, but trust me, you’re just standing there. If you’re going down, OK, go down, but go down with guns blazing. Always, always, always, go down with both guns blaaazing." - Ch. 22

"Just see the ball, hit the ball." The same thing applies to life.

"If you’re going down, OK, go down, but go down with guns blazing. Always, always, always, go down with both guns blaaazing."


One good game, I think. Play one good game, and you’ll have won a set, and then at least you can walk out of here holding your head up. - Ch. 22

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves, all we need is just one good game.


Now we play on my terms. I move Medvedev side to side, hit the ball big, do everything Brad said to do. Medvedev is a step slower, notably distracted. He’s had too long to think about winning. He was five points away, five points, and it’s haunting him. He’s going over and over it in his mind. He’s telling himself, I was so close. I was there. The finish line! He’s living in the past, and I’m in the present. He’s thinking, I’m feeling. Don’t think, Andre. Hit harder. - Ch. 22


I phone J.P., who gives me a pep talk. Don’t try too hard, he says. Don’t try to be perfect. Be yourself.
I think I know how to follow that advice on a tennis court, but on a date, I’m at a loss.
Andre, he says, some people are thermometers, some are thermostats. You’re a thermostat. You don’t register the temperature in a room, you change it. So be confident, be yourself, take charge. Show her your essential self. - Ch. 23

Another dating advice from Agassi's autobiography 😉


Feeling is the thing.

You have to let yourself feel.

Later I tell her that I don’t understand why I sometimes come apart—still. She gives me insights from her experience. Stop thinking, she says. Feeling is the thing. Feeling.
...
We talk for days about thinking versus feeling. She says it’s one thing not to think, but you can’t then decide to feel. You can’t try to feel. You have to let yourself feel. - Ch. 25

Preach! 🙌🙌🙌


I also see that, in this perilous moment of her life, she’d like a little credit. I’ve always taken it for granted that my mother wanted to be taken for granted, that she wanted to blend into the woodwork. But what she wants right now is to be noticed, appreciated. She wants me to know that she’s stronger than I suspected. She’s getting her treatments, not complaining, and if she takes pride in this, if she wants me to be proud, she also wants me to know I’m made of the same stuff. She survived my father, as did I. She’ll survive this, and I will too. - Ch. 25

This is the spirit we need going through difficult moments ourselves or seeing our loved ones do.


In the delivery room, when the doctor hands me Jaden Gil, I feel bewildered. I love him so much that my heart splits open, like something overripe. I can’t wait to get to know him, and yet, and yet. I also wonder, Just who is this beautiful intruder? Are Stefanie and I ready for a perfect stranger in the house? I’m a stranger to myself—what will I be to my son? Will he like me?
We bring Jaden home, and I spend hours staring at him. I ask him who he is, where he came from, what he’ll be. I ask myself how I can be everything to him that I needed and never had. I want to retire, immediately, spend all my time with him. But now more than ever I need to play. For him, his future, and my other children at my school.

My first match as a father is a win against Rafter at the Tennis Masters Series tournament in Sydney. I tell reporters afterward that I doubt I’ll be able to do this long enough that my new son will get to see me play, but it sure is a nice dream. - Ch. 26

The love of a parent.

It's interesting to see how having a son becomes a way to divide your life as well: "My first match as a father"


I write again to Jaden: I just lost my match and I feel terrible. I don’t want to go back out there tomorrow. So much so I was actually wishing for an injury. Picture that, not wanting to do something so much that you wish upon yourself injury. Jaden, if you ever feel overwhelmed with something like I was tonight, just keep your head down and keep working and keep trying. Face it at its worst and realize it’s not so bad. That will be your chance for peace. I wanted to quit and leave and go home and see you. It’s hard to stay and play, it’s easy to go home and be with you. That’s why I’m staying. - Ch. 27

❤️❤️❤️🙌🙌🙌


I bow to all four corners, blow kisses to the crowd, and I think they know I’ve given them everything. - Ch. 27


I play and keep playing because I choose to play. Even if it’s not your ideal life, you can always choose it. No matter what your life is, choosing it changes everything. - Ch. 27


He’s like me before I met Brad: thinks he needs to win every point. He doesn’t know the value of letting the other guy lose. When I beat him, when I shake his hand, I want to tell him to relax, it takes some people longer than others to learn. But I can’t. It’s not my place. - Ch. 28


I can’t beat this guy, I know I can’t, so I may as well just try to give a good show. Freed from thoughts of winning, I instantly play better. I stop thinking, start feeling. My shots become a half-second quicker, my decisions become the product of instinct rather than logic. I see Blake take a step back and register the change. What just happened? He’s been beating my brains in for seven straight rounds, and at the end of the eighth I land one sneaky punch, wobbling him just as the bell rings. Now he’s walking to his corner, unable to believe that his hobbled, demoralized opponent still has life. - Ch. 28

Throughout the fourth set, Blake’s panicking, no longer being aggressive. I can see him thinking, can almost hear him thinking: Damn, I can’t do anything right.
I win the fourth set.

Now that Blake has seen the benefits of my not thinking, he decides he’s going to try it. As the fifth set unfolds, he turns off his brain. At last, after nearly three hours, we meet on equal terms. We’re both on fire, and his on-fire is slightly better than my on-fire. In the tenth game he has a chance to serve out the match.

I’ve heard old-timers say that the fifth set has nothing to do with tennis. It’s true. The fifth set is about emotion and conditioning. Slowly I leave my body. Nice knowing you, body. I’ve had several out-of-body experiences over my career, but this one is healthy. I trust my skill, and I step out of its way. I remove myself from the equation. At match point, 6–5, I hit a solid serve. He returns to my forehand. I hit a quality ball to his backhand. He’s moving around it, and I know—mistake. If he’s running around my quality ball, that means he’s pressing. He’s not thinking clearly. He’s putting himself out of position, letting the ball play him. He’s not giving himself an opportunity to hit the best possible shot. Thus I know that one of two things is about to happen. He’s going to be handcuffed by my ball and hit it weakly. Or he’s going to be forced into an error.
Either way, I have a pretty good idea the ball is coming right here. I look at the spot where it’s sure to land. Blake wheels, throws his lower torso out of the way and coldcocks the ball. It lands ten feet from where I expected. Winner.
I was completely wrong.
I do the only thing I can do. Walk back. Prepare for the next point.

At six–all we have a murderous rally, backhand to backhand, and I’m a big loose bag of rattling nerves. In a ten-stroke backhand rally, you know somebody’s going to raise the stakes at any moment, and you’re always sure it’s going to be your opponent. I wait. And wait. But with each stroke, Blake doesn’t raise the stakes. So it falls to me. I step in as if I’m going to cane the ball and instead I hit a backhand drop shot. I’m all in.
There are times in a match when you want to put just a solid, serviceable swing on the ball, but your blood is so full of adrenaline that you hit it big. This happens often to Blake, not with his swing but his speed. He runs faster than he means to run. He feels so much urgency that he sprints to a ball and gets there sooner than he anticipated. This is what happens now.
Sprinting all-out for my backhand drop, he has the racket gripped in such a way that he’s going to have to dig, but instead he gets there so fast he doesn’t need to dig. Meaning, the ball is on him and he has the wrong grip. Instead of crushing the ball, as he should, he’s forced by his grip to punch the ball. Then he holds ground at the net, and I lace a backhand up the line.
It passes him by a fair margin.
Now he’s serving at 6–7. I have match point again. He misses the first serve. I have a nanosecond to decide where he’s coming with his second serve. Aggressive? Safe? I decide he’s going to err on the side of safety. He’s going to roll it to my backhand. So how aggressive do I want to be? Where do I want to station myself? Should I make an irrevocable decision, stand where I can kill the ball if I’m correct, but where I won’t be able to reach it if I’m wrong?
Or should I split the difference, stand in the middle ground, where I’ll be able to hit a moder-ately good shot on most serves, and a perfect shot on none?
If there is to be a final decision in this match, one final decision on this night of 100,000 decisions, I want that final decision to be mine. I irrevocably commit. He serves, as expected, to my backhand. It hangs just where I thought it would hang, like a soap bubble. I feel all the hairs on my body rise. I feel the crowd rise. I tell myself: Quality cut, rip it, rip it, rip it, you fuck.
As the ball leaves my racket I track every inch of its flight. I see the shadow of the ball converging with the ball itself. As they slowly become one, I’m saying aloud: Ball, please please find a hole.
It does.
When Blake hugs me at the net, we know we’ve done something special. But I know it better, because I’ve played eight hundred more matches than he has. And this match stands apart from the others. I’ve never been more intellectually aware, never felt the need to be more intellectually aware, and I take a certain intellectual pride in the finished product. I want to sign it. - Ch. 28

Such a great game!


And even before dealing with Ginepri, I know the first thing I’ll have to do is chisel through a wall of my own fatigue. The last three sets against Blake are the best tennis I’ve ever played, and the most draining. I tell myself to come out against Ginepri and manufacture adrenaline, pretend I’m down two sets, try to relocate that mindless state I found against Blake.
It works. Feigning urgency, I win the first set. Now my goal is to conserve energy for tomorrow’s final. I begin to play safe tennis, thinking about my next opponent, and of course that lets Ginepri swing freely, take chances. He wins the second set.
I banish from my mind all thought of the final. I give Ginepri my full attention. - Ch. 28

I also need to acknowledge that I can’t win every point. I can’t run after everything, can’t lunge for each dink and drop. I can’t go full-speed against a kid who’s still teething. He wants to be out here all night, but I have forty-five minutes of energy left, forty-five minutes of a functioning body. - Ch. 28


Formation vs Transformation

Transformation is change from one thing to another, but I started as nothing. I didn’t transform, I formed. When I broke into tennis, I was like most kids: I didn’t know who I was, and I rebelled at being told by older people. I think older people make this mistake all the time with younger people, treating them as finished products when in fact they’re in process. It’s like judging a match before it’s over, and I’ve come from behind too often, and had too many opponents come roaring back against me, to think that’s a good idea.
What people see now, for better or worse, is my first formation, my first incarnation. I didn’t alter my image, I discovered it. I didn’t change my mind. I opened it. J.P. helps me work through this idea, to explain it to myself. He says people have been fooled by my changing looks, my clothes and hair, into thinking that I know who I am. People see my self-exploration as self-expression. He says that, for a man with so many fleeting identities, it’s shocking, and symbolic, that my initials are A.K.A.

I can’t explain it to Stefanie either, but I don’t need to. She knows all. In the days and hours leading up to Wimbledon, she stares into my eyes and pats my cheek. She talks to me about my career. She talks about hers. She tells me about her last Wimbledon. - Ch. 29


I tell reporters that I’m struggling with the end more than I expected. I tell them that the best way I can explain it is this: Many of you, I’m sure, don’t like your jobs. But imagine if someone told you right now that your story about me would be your last. After this, you’ll never be able to write another word for as long as you live. How would you feel? - Ch. 29

Maybe I should treat each line of code I need to write with this attitude. lol


We have another code that might be my favorite feature of the school. The Code of Respect that begins each day. Whenever I’m down there I poke my head into a random classroom and ask the children to stand with me and recite.
The essence of good discipline is respect.
Respect for authority and respect for others.
Respect for self and respect for rules.
It is an attitude that begins at home,
Is reinforced at school,
And is applied throughout life.

I promise them that if they memorize that simple code, keep it close to their hearts, they will go very far. - Ch. 30


My theme, I think, will be contradictions. A friend suggests I brush up on Walt Whitman.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself.
I never knew this was an acceptable point of view. Now I steer by it. Now it’s my North Star. And that’s what I’ll tell the students. Life is a tennis match between polar opposites. Winning and losing, love and hate, open and closed. It helps to recognize that painful fact early.
Then recognize the polar opposites within yourself, and if you can’t embrace them, or reconcile them, at least accept them and move on. The only thing you cannot do is ignore them.
- Ch. 30


Still no answer. Her concentration, as usual, puts mine to shame. In the same way that she wastes no movement on the court, she never wastes words. J.P. points out that the three most influential people in my life—my father, Gil, Stefanie—aren’t native English speakers.
And with all three, their most powerful mode of communication may be physical. - Ch. 30


She walks off the court.
Not yet, I tell her.
What? She stops, looks at me. Then she laughs.
OK, she says, backpedaling to the baseline. It makes no sense, but it’s who I am, and she understands. We have things to do, wonderful things. She can’t wait to go and get started, and neither can I. But I also can’t help it.
I want to play just a little while longer. - Ch. 30

🙂


Open: An Autobiography


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