“After breakfast, after Stefanie and the children have kissed me goodbye and run off to the museum, I sit quietly and look around the suite. It’s like all the hotel suites I’ve ever stayed in, but this one is even more so. Clean, elegant, comfortable: this is the Four Seasons, so it’s beautiful, but it’s still just another version of what I call “No Home”.
I was reading this paragraph in tennis player Andre Agassi’s memoirs, ‘Open‘, and I was thinking of all those people who have no home to return to at the end of their working day. How many people, either for work reasons or for personal circumstances, do not live in a home, but in a hotel room, which is not always a suite. Some stay in small rooms on long business trips, roadside motels, hostels in the middle of nowhere… And I am sure there are even people who return to their house every day but have not managed to make it a home for whatever reason.
And you may ask, how important is this? Well, it is vital. Whatever their age, the role that home plays in their lives, in their mental health, in their development, in their care, and in their stability is essential.
The memoirs of this tennis player are, among other things, an ode to the family and the home as a fundamental pillar for the personal and professional life of the individual. Whether you like tennis or not, it is worth reading; it’s not just another sports biography. You might get a little lost in the story of some of the matches, but the effort, sacrifice, discipline and passion that this man is forced to work for, despite hating tennis when he was a child. How he has been marked by a demanding and severe father, more coach than father, shows a true example of self-discipline to achieve all that he has.
This is what leads him to want to have the kind of family he did not have and to care for and admire his wife and children as a daily motivation to keep going, without the pressure of winning or losing, because he knows that when he returns home they are there.
But “they” and the “home” he returns to have been built by him and Stefanie Graff together. They share a similar past, thanks to all the values that tennis has taught them since they were young. Let’s say that everything Andre Agassi suffered and lacked as a child and teenager, allowed him later to be able to value and care for the treasure of having a family where affection, calm, admiration and love reign.
“We are like blocks of stone… the blows of His chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect”. A quote from their (both) favourite film, Shadowlands, which is about the life of the writer C.S. Lewis and sums up excellently what life is all about.