I have never been a big tennis fan, I don’t know the game’s rules or anything about how they play.
I only know the big names of the sport and of course everyone of us heard about Andre Agassi.
His book “Open” has been on my “to read” list for a while already and I just came across it in a bookstore recently.
Can I say that I fell in love with this man after reading his book?! Because I think I did. 🙂
I will not write a review of the book, just go to a bookstore, online, or wherever you like to shop and buy this book already and READ IT!!! Trust me, it’s worth the money and the time!
One of the things that impressed me the most about the book and him is how he talks about his wife, Stefi Graf, and his love for her. I wish that everyone would feel a love like this
Bellow is Andre’s speach at Stefi’s induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.
“I realize the words have yet to be invented that are large enough, colorful enough or true enough to express the heart and soul of this woman that I love, Stephanie!
I wonder what could I possible say to give justice to the way you’ve lived your life and the lives that you’ve changed. I began several years ago with a small chalk board sitting in our kitchen, a tradition that I’ve carried on every night, that at the end of each day I have picked up the chalk and I’ve tried to express the many things you mean to me. Sometimes just a brief line, sometimes a short story, but always an overflow from a grateful heart. And yet after these months and years after writing to you each night I have never been at a short of these ways to reflect the light that she brought into my life. And now, how ironic that in these few short moments I need to capture in words these saying that I deeply appreciate in you. Maybe I can say it to you this simple way:
Not long ago we were on the road and I looked at our hotel room window from upper floor of a very tall high rise I could see the rooftop of an old and beautiful cathedral. There was stunning with the carved stone and marble done so perfectly. I could not believe the work of art I was seeing and then I wondered how many years did it take them to create this and what drove them to be this committed then I began to appreciate something greater. I realized when this rooftop was built it was by far the tallest building and in the age long before the airplanes and skyscrapers these artist believed each day as the went about their work that no human being, no one set of eyes will ever see their creation. How could they not have cut one corner, how could they considered no task routine. i can only think it came from a deep place inside, the need to be true to themselves was their reason and the reward.
All of this has helped me to understand you just a little bit better, never needing applause to be at your best, only needing the best your soul can give to feel complete.
From the roar of voices inside the lines of a center court to the quietness of a child’s bedroom, that generous soul, that unbending strength, that soft spoken integrity has not one time been shaken.
The arena of tennis has simply given you a platform and an opportunity to refine those inner qualities even more. You have always been about the action, not about the words. You have never defined yourself by what you have achieved, rather you have achieved by how you defined yourself. And even now it has taken my breath away to see how you quietly laid down your racket to pursue love and motherhood with the same zeal and high standards you have always demanded of yourself.
Now, no one has ever known you being infatuated by your own accomplishments. In fact, as I’ve always said, anyone who speaks with you will most likely forget the great things you’ve done within 30 seconds. But they will feel cared for, their feelings engaged, and you never let go of their heart until you know that they know they are completely understood.
The history books will record for posterity your ability to embrace and rise above adversity, to play trough injury, and to win, again, and again, and again. Far in the future people will analyze and thus discuss your place as the greatest of your time and as those future generations hear of your strength and dominance they may be tempted to think that they know you or the real heart of a giant that beats inside of you. But for those of us who are blessed to actually see first hand your quiet humility, to watch you represent your sport with unmistakable dignity, and for those of us who are even more blessed to be lifted out of our selves by your laughter, to be on the receiving end of your always generous heart we have etched forever and us something a statistic could never contain. We have been touched deeply by your life, you have made us better and we will never be the same.
Stephanie, you have spent many years of your life competing, but right here where we stand and the years of your children and right now in my heart you have no rival.
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to the greatest person I’ve ever known, Stephanie Graf!”
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