NOTE: This blog post appeared originally in September 2010.
By Ariana Pekary, producer
You think you know someone: you’ve watched them nearly their whole life, playing on the court, raw emotions exposed, giving interviews, boasting about their success, and making millions. And then they retire (young, of course, at the age of 36), wait a few years, then they tell you the truth that they’ve been hiding for the past twenty years: that they hated their career. It seems hard to believe until you read it, on paper, in black and white, with such candor.
Open: An Autobiography has just been released in paperback and is very much worth the read, to learn how different someone can be from the image that’s created of them on television. It’s almost comical if it weren’t so drastic. Andre Agassi still has a great deal of affection for his father, but he doesn’t really pull any punches about his childhood. It’s difficult to remove the image of Mike Agassi taping a paddle to his baby boy’s hand so he can swipe at the tennis balls hanging from a mobile above his crib. Andre never has a choice in life, and even though he goes through the motions (ultimately earning him eight grand slam titles), he rebels along the way.
That rebellious image, misinterpreted as it may have been, was used to promote Canon. In the book, Agassi explains that he didn’t know what the commercial was going to be – he didn’t know the punch line, “Image is Everything,” until he was on-set and the director told him to look in the camera and repeat those words. It’s one of his regrets in life. And it’s one of the many revelations he discloses in his book, along with the hair piece he wore after his own hair started to fall out, the proposal he wishes he hadn’t made to Brooke Shields, the potatoes and lentils he was forced to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner early in his career, and his attempt to lie to the Association of Tennis Professionals about using crystal meth.