Here are my favourite quotes and highlights from Andre Agassi's autobiography.
On dealing with pressure
Pressure is how you know everything’s working, the doctor said. Words to live by, Doc.
On obstacles in life
Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid the obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job, and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than a bad back.
On what makes you brave
What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.
On focusing on what you can control
Given all that lies beyond my control, I obsess about the few things I can control, and racket tension is one such thing.
I’ve told James that when I was seven years old I saw Jimmy Connors make someone carry his bag, as though he were Julius Caesar. I vowed then and there that I would always carry my own.
On dealing with your opponents
He tells me one day on the tennis court: When you know that you just took the other guy’s best punch, and you’re still standing, and the other guy knows it, you will rip the heart right out of him. In tennis, he says, same rule. Attack the other man’s strength. If the man is a server, take away his serve. If he’s a power player, overpower him. If he has a big forehand, takes pride in his forehand, go after his forehand until he hates his forehand. My father has a special name for this contrarian strategy. He calls it putting a blister on the other guy’s brain. With this strategy, this brutal philosophy, he stamps me for life. He turns me into a boxer with a tennis racket. More, since most tennis players pride themselves on their serve, my father turns me into a counterpuncher—a returner.
On what success feels like
But I don’t feel that Wimbledon has changed me. I feel, in fact, as if I’ve been let in on a dirty little secret: winning changes nothing. Now that I’ve won a slam, I know something that very few people on earth are permitted to know. A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad. Not even close.
I find it surreal, then perfectly normal. I’m struck by how fast the surreal becomes the norm. I marvel at how unexciting it is to be famous, how mundane famous people are. They’re confused, uncertain, insecure, and often hate what they do. It’s something we always hear—like that old adage that money can’t buy happiness—but we never believe it until we see it for ourselves. Seeing it in 1992 brings me a new measure of confidence.
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