Top 5 Best Tennis Player Biographies and Memoirs | 2021 Reviews

Best Overall
9.7
Open: An Autobiography

Open: An Autobiography

Editor’s Choice
9.5
Pete Sampras: Greatness Revisited

Pete Sampras: Greatness Revisited

Best Value
9.1
Rafa: My Story. Rafael Nadal with John Carlin

Rafa: My Story. Rafael Nadal with John Carlin

 

Memoirs are a great way to understand more about public figures’ lives and what they tend to be thinking. Here are the top 5 tennis biographies and autobiographies by renowned players.

Top 5 Best Tennis Player Biographies and Memoirs Reviewed

  1. Open: An Autobiography
  2. Pete Sampras: Greatness Revisited
  3. Rafa: My Story. Rafael Nadal with John Carlin
  4. Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes (Billie Jean King Library)
  5. Roger Federer: Phenomenon. Enthusiast. Philanthropist. (Kurzportraits Kurz & Bundig)

Open: An Autobiography

  • Available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle
  • In-depth autobiography
  • Candid writing
  • Not suitable for children
  • Partially ghost-written

 

Groomed to be a tennis champion by his demanding father, Andre Agassi rose to fame as a renowned professional tennis player. But with all the wealth, fame, and recognition, there lies a man who secretly resents the sport.

Agassi candidly reveals his early days in the court and his uncomfortable relationship with fame in this autobiography, sharing a side that most of his fans have yet to see. He does not hold back on everything he has been through; on the reality behind all the fame and fortune, the mentally taxing training and regimen endured under his father and some trainers, his rebellion, and how it made him resent tennis, while still being one of the greatest players of all time.

Many readers love the style of writing Agassi does in his autobiography. An in-depth look into Agassi’s life gives the readers a sense of openness and honesty that many autobiographies sometimes miss. Devoid of glorifying his superstar status, his candor engages his readers and reminds them that he is only a man who wants happiness.

As some readers have said, Agassi’s autobiography contains all “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Even as he delves into the haunting, unhappy story of how he rose to fame during that era, he also discusses how he rose from those challenges and how he finds his happiness in the end.

A candidly inspiring backstory of one of the greatest tennis champions is one that many should read about. It is real and raw, and as a bonus, you can get a lot of inspiration as a tennis player.


Pete Sampras: Greatness Revisited

  • An in-depth look at Sampras’ career
  • Nostalgic
  • Detailed commentary about Sampras’ matches may be too long
  • Hefty read

 

After a string of dominant performances during the 1990s, Pete Sampras was hailed as the greatest American male player of all time. But as he finished his career after winning the 2002 US Open, his presence soon faded as new superstar figures like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal stepped into the spotlight. Hall of Fame author and historian Steve Flink recaptures the magic of the former star player in this career biography of Pete Sampras. 

Flink revisited many of Sampras’ matches throughout his career and transcribed it in the biography. This may put off some readers, but if you are an avid Sampras fan—as many others are—the play-by-play commentary of some of the matches brings back memories of the beloved renowned player, most especially that the commentary includes Sampras’ nearly 20 years later.

Flink’s remarkable writing in reliving Sampras’ career has made fans feel nostalgic for the former tennis player. The biography includes interviews with Sampras’ himself, so it delves deeper into his mind than just written from an outsider’s perspective.

A nostalgic trip to Sampras’ tennis career, a look into his life, and in-depth commentary about his matches make the biography a lengthy read. If you have time to spare, or are a big Sampras fan, sitting down and divulging into the book is worth it.


Rafa: My Story. Rafael Nadal with John Carlin

  • Available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle
  • An in-depth look at Nadal’s matches
  • Great for Rafael Nadal fans
  • Does not delve too much into Nadal’s life
  • Slightly rough Spanish to English translation

 

Hailing from Mallorca, Spain, Rafael Nadal shares his insights on what makes a tennis champion. Starting from when his uncle Toni first coached him at the age of four to growing up learning humility and respect from his parents, Nadal rose to fame not only for his court performance but also for being a gracious role model.

In his book, he details a part of his family life and two of his major tennis matches: the Wimbledon 2008 final and the US Open 2010. You also get an in-depth look at the challenges he faced during his career, like certain family issues and numerous injuries.

If you are new to the tennis scene and would like to know more about Rafael Nadal, this book is an easy read that will give you the additional in-depth info you are looking for. You will also get a more detailed look at Nadal’s matches in 2008 and 2010 and what is going on inside his head.

While it is marketed as an autobiography, it is translated by award-winning journalist John Carlin from Nadal’s native Spanish tongue. Many readers found the book easy to read, but for readers who were long-time avid Nadal fans, the info in the autobiography is not at all new.

Some readers found it was more of an inside-look of Nadal’s Wimbledon Final and US Open sprinkled with a bit of Nadal’s family life.

The book is a good start to get to know the tennis star for fans who have not delved into Nadal’s personality and life. 


Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I’ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes (Billie Jean King Library)

  • Delving in The Battle of the Sexes match with Bobby Riggs
  • Filled with positive life lessons
  • Fast, light read
  • Some life lessons are vague, general positivity statements
  • Does not delve into King’s life

 

The Battle of the Sexes was one event that changed gender relations for generations of Americans who watched, most especially when Billie Jean King won over Bobby Riggs. In this book, King shares the life lessons that have brought her success in that match and the world in general.

The book focuses mainly on the Battle of the Sexes match with Bobby Riggs. It is a fast and easy read, and if you are looking for life lessons to live by, this is the best tennis book to buy. King also shares a bit of her life, delving a little into her family life, tennis, and tennis coaches.

However, if you are looking for a deep dive into the life of Billie Jean King, this is not the book to look for. But if you are looking for a light read with a happy ending, you should grab this book if you see it on the bookstore shelf. Generally, she discusses the positive influences and mantras she keeps in mind while being a go-getter in the sport and, ultimately, one of the names that will change tennis history.


Roger Federer: Phenomenon. Enthusiast. Philanthropist. (Kurzportraits Kurz & Bundig)

  • Available in paperback and Kindle
  • Short read
  • Easy read
  • Translation is not excellent

 

Sixteen short essays translated from German; we get a delve into Roger Federer’s mind on how everything in his life affected his career as a professional tennis player.

Enthusiastic about ball sports at a very young age, Federer’s playfulness and passion pushed him further to pursue the career. For the last 20 years, Zurich-based journalist Simon Graf has followed Federer’s triumphant career through the world’s great tennis arenas for the Swiss press. He now brings us the English-translated essays from the original German by Sophie Debrunner Hall.

Since the book is short, it is fairly easy to read. And since it was written by someone close to Federer, you can only get a glimpse of what his journey is like from an outsider’s eyes. With that, avid Federer fans may not enjoy this book too much since most of the information written in the book is not something they do not know.

Some avid readers view the translation work as rushed. But, if you are looking for a good, light read about Federer’s career and his journey as one of the greatest athletes of all time, a copy of this book will give you exactly that.


TOP PICK

OPEN: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Andre Agassi

Nothing is more important in an autobiography than honesty and a deep dive into the author’s life. Open: An Autobiography gives us just that, which many readers look for when their favorite star player releases a book that promises an in-depth look.

The book expresses the reality some star players face, and Agassi does not dare stray from that. While realizing the flipside of the superstar status, it still leaves readers with a feel-good ending that shows how after Agassi’s struggles, he found happiness.

It is an inspirational book that does not sugarcoat or glorify any aspect of the sport nor the hefty issues it tackles.


Paperback, Hard Cover, or E-book? – Buyer’s Guide

You find your favorite tennis player’s memoir, and now you cannot wait to dig into it. It is available in paperback and hardcover, but you can also purchase it on Amazon as an e-book for your Kindle. Overwhelmed by the options, or cannot decide whether you want a traditional hard copy or an electronic version? Here is a guide to help you decide.

Paperback

Also known as a softcover, paperback books are as their name implies: a book bound in a soft paper cover. It is the most popular book format for its lightweight quality, and it is the most practical for most readers with its low price and easy carrying.

Hardcover

As its name implies, the book is bound in a cover with hard material like cardboard. Generally sturdier than a paperback, its physical appearance is also pleasing if you are one to display them on your bookshelf.

Also known as hardbound books, modern hardcovers are usually covered in paper jackets where the book’s cover art, synopsis, and a brief “about the author” are located. Some hardcovers have those printed on the board cover.

It may be sturdier than your usual paperback, but they are heavier in comparison, making them too bulky to travel around with. Hardcovers may be better as an aesthetically pleasing book back at your home.

E-books

E-books rose to popularity around 2006 as an alternative to traditional print books. Most of its advantages are its cheaper price, changeability of format to suit your reading preferences and accessibility.

E-books are usually cheaper because they are cheaper to produce. They do not require many resources like physical print books, and owning an e-reader can make you access hundreds of e-books in a compact device you can take anywhere with ease.

However, since it is electronic, you need to take great care of your e-reader and constantly provide it with power. And with the rise of gadget screen-related disorders, it can contribute to screen dependency and increased deterioration of your eyesight.

Every product and option has its advantages and disadvantages. What matters is your preference, and if you are happy with the type of book you get, reading about your favorite tennis player’s life will always be an enjoyable experience.


Conclusion

Sometimes we forget that most of our favorite superstars are only human. We put them on a pedestal, call them our idols, and look up to them as inspiration to whatever path we want to take.

Memoirs and biographies remind us that these are ordinary people who started as regular people, but as they pursued their dreams and worked hard to achieve their goals, they became role models that people look up to. 

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