Pretty insightful. She gives a clear account of the struggles she had to go through in order to become one of the best players ever. She uses a direct tone and never hesitates to discuss tough subjects such as her sexual orientation or even her menstrual cramps.
It uses a similar tone than the one above but it offers a somehow colder chronicle of her life. One thing these two ladies have in common is that they rarely use the victim card. Martina goes through life and never looks back while Hana uses craftiness and clever tactics like turning on the tv in order to confront loneliness or her well-known marriage which she used to get the Australian citizenship.
From fear to victory (Seles):
I didn't like it that much. This might sound tough (and to a certain point she had the right to use it to her convenience) but I felt the tale of the aftermath of the stabbing was a bit artificial and directed to make the reader feel sorry for her, which was not necessary since the story was sad and awful itself. Also, I think it was too short a book, something I also feel about...
Now, I never bought this book. Knowing Arantxa I expected this book to be a hoax and I was not mistaken. I read certain pages spiceboy sent me via Whatsapp and also went through it at several local shops just to see what it looked like and if the purchase was worth it. No more than 120 pages with double spacing and a few more dozen of them with stats that can be easily checked in the wikipedia that filled the book which was quite expensive even though it was paperback. She offers wrong data and tries to exaggerate her achievements and to deny her failures. She constantly uses the wrong surnames (Graff, Higgins...) and has some weird chapters called "My tattoos" and the like. She took advantage of her family feud to promote this book but the whole episode doesn't take more than 8 to 10 pages. Such a hoax.
Les dessous du tennis fèminin (Tauziat):
I read it in French which I'm not really fluent in and since I didn't feel like bringing a dictionary to my bed, I never used one. I liked it quite a bit but I felt she was quite blind about De Camaret (I think the Demongeot scandal had already surfaced) but there were a few things I liked, in particular. To start with, I never felt it was THAT hard on some players. I expected some big time gossiping but quite the opposite. I actually think she's the type of person who calls a spade a spade and I liked that she was always aware of her own limitations. She offers some nice stuff about Kournikova (I think this was one of the first publications that acknowledged how hard Anna K trained) and the episode with Schultz-McCarthy is hilarious
Tinling's Sixty years in tennis:
Now this really IS an autobiography. I think he wrote it himself, which is a plus. He's also the type of person who calls a spade a spade, but he fills it with blood and it's quite enjoyable. This is superb quality and I highly recommend it.
The Rivals (Martina vs Chris):
It's nice to have a story about them both, but most of the time it depends on previously published books and there are lots of references to their respective autobiographies and several others. It's not great but, as I said, it's nice to have a story about one of the greatest sport rivalries ever
Open (Agassi) and McEnroe's book:
I put them together because they share certain characteristics, IMO. I heard some people say that they started liking them both after reading their books but I felt the exact opposite. They provide great details of their lives and just for that both books are worth a reading, but they lack self-criticism.
A long way, baby (Lichtenstein):
I think this served as the style-basis for what was about to come (Hard Courts, Ladies..., Venus Envy). Grace had great timing by picking the year the WTA was created and the Battle of Sexes took place. She starts the year following both tours (one Avon and one USTA) and continues to do so at several others. The players were quite close and warm to her (something that never happened in other chronicles) and Grace reciprocates. Her animosity towards Court is evident but I think she ends up understanding her.
Now this mixes both ATP and WTA but it centers primarily on the former. It recounts the 1990 year in tennis, just when the male players formed their own association and the WTA was suffering from Evert's retirement. Luckily for them, Capriati and Seles were there and the WTA part of the book centers around them. Ted Tingling's tribute almost made me cry (and I never cry
) and also made me like Monica a little bit more
Ladies of the Court:
The details are juicy but it was not a great year to follow, to be honest. The author also follows the circuit (1991 this time) to Rome, RG, Eastbourne, Wimbledon, Kitzbuhel, US Open and the YEC and offers insightful information about the players and the WTA itself. It was the year that Mary Pierce was playing a full schedule for the first time and there were already rumours about Jim's behaviour, though the WTA didn't really react in time.
A pro is that Wertheim picked one of the greatest years in tennis (2000). The con is that he's not a great writer and there is the disadvantage of the entourages, which don't allow the press to get closer to the players and the info is somehow scarce. Wertheim offers way more details on lesser players such as Nicole Pratt or Vanessa Webb but when it comes to higher ranked ones I have the feeling he tends to exaggerate or even make up some conversations, like the one between Spirlea and Richard Williams. Not a bad book, however.
This book is not that well-known since it doesn't deal with really famous players. Instead it follows the transition of several players from the juniors to the professional circuit. It focuses on Debbie Spence, a junior FO finalist who was the top American junior at some point of her career. She, along others (Shawn Foltz, Marianne Werdel, Melissa Gurney, Melissa Brown...), had to choose between going to college or turning pro. Most of them decided to turn pro but it was quite ironic that the one who went to college (Werdel) ended up having the best career and getting her best results long after the others retired. It also features Tracy Austin, who was injured at the time and who was still trying to get back on court. A particularly sad story (though the author never elaborates much on it) of Camille Benjamin, who was "forced" to turn pro by her parents in order to win money for the family. Anyway, as I said, the book focuses on Debbie Spence, whom the author describes as a brat who thinks she's better than she actually is. I don't know whether such portrait is fair or not, but Debbie was not happy about it, lol.
Passing Shots (Shriver):
Very funny and a great read. I think this book has been widely commented in the Blast so I won't get into details since everything's been already written. Just to make a connection, I feel like Pam always has the need to show the world how straight she is, just like...
Spadea's Break Point (The secret diary of a Tennis player):
I read this alongside Agassi's Open and McEnroe's crap and it was the best by far. Spadea writes a diary of a year of her career right after the losing streak for which he is already famous and he's not there to make any friends, which is glorious
he provides chronicles on each year of tennis, starting back in the 19th century. As time goes by the chronicles start getting bigger, but they never go beyond four or five pages. Quite enjoyable and a great reference book.
Wimbledon's official book:
I purchased an old copy (I think it ended in 1997) because it was second hand and cheap and, to be honest, the years after that are easier when it comes to getting information. I didn't expect much but it was quite a surprise. If you want a book about the history of Wimbledon, this is it.