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A Champion's Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis Hardcover – June 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“Consider this book Sampras’ 15th Grand Slam. A thoroughly compelling read that–apart from retracing a gilded sport career–really probes the ‘hard drive’ of a champion. It’s as if all the emotion and insight that Sampras sometimes seemed reluctant to express during his playing days comes spilling forth.”
—Jon Wertheim, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated and SI.com

"As the title says, this is a remarkable look into a champion's mind, and maybe one of the best tennis memoirs ever. Pete captures the pressure a player feels once he's reached the top. He puts us next to him on the court, and we get a clear sense of what made him extraordinary: he was supremely determined, dedicated to learning the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents, and committed to never ever yielding a point easily. Pete wrote this book the way he plays tennis: full-out."
—Rod Laver

“Even playing at a high level, it’s hard to know what the experience of winning–and trying to stay on top–is like for another competitor. We all react so differently to pressure, to the glow of the spotlight. It is brutally hard to stay grounded, and yet this wonderfully candid book shows that it was Pete’s rare ability to compartmentalize and draw strength from his family that allowed him to reach the sport’s pinnacle. Whether championships are in your past or just live in your dreams, you’ll learn a lot from Pete’s story.”
—Monica Seles

"Pete Sampras was always able to rise to the occasion, winning so many big matches at the biggest events.  This book provides the reader a glimpse into Pete's remarkable career and how he was able attain his vision of being the best player in the world.  We can all benefit from the insight he offers."
—Roger Federer

About the Author

PETE SAMPRAS holds the distinction of being the youngest male player (at age nineteen) to win the U.S. Open. During his career he won sixty-four top-level singles titles (including fourteen Grand Slams, eleven ATP Masters Series titles, and five Tennis Masters Cup titles) as well as two doubles titles. Currently he makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife, Bridgette, and their sons, Christian and Ryan.

PETER BODO is a senior editor and chief columnist at Tennis magazine.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; 1 edition (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307383296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307383297
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By James Peyton on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book gives a clear picture of Sampras' personality which is pretty similiar to his game-straight forward, aggressive when necessary, and well rounded. Sampras tells of his parents' sacrifice so that he could become a champion, and his admiration of their values is evident throughout the book. He also tells of small sibling rivalries; helping his sister deal with Robert Landsorph, who seems to lose all of his students from Austin to Davenport to other coaches because of his belligerent demeanor; and the desinegration of his relationship with Pete Fisher after Fisher's arrest for child molestation. Tennis attracts a strange crowd, and the Sampras family may have found the strangest in Fisher who has taken more credit for Sampras' game than Pete gives him here. Who is to say which of the two is correct? In regard to his rivals, Sampras speaks in detail and honestly. His page or so that he gives to Connors is probably longer than any conversation between the two. Sampras also does a good job of showing the Jekyll and Hyde personality of McEnroe. He gives Lendl his due as an underated champion whose accomplishments are perhaps greater than Connors' or McEnroe's, a kind person, and someone who took time to help a future champion, Sampras at the age 17(Yes, the time with Lendl may have caused the bias). He also thoroughly analyzes the games, friendships, and rivalies with Agassi, Courier, Chang, and Martin. Finally, he nods to Federer as a worthy player to break his records, classy again. As far as romantic relationships, an important point to make is that unlike McEnroe, Sampras does not tell anything of his first girlfriend Delana Mulcahy who is substantially older than he and left Sampras for someone even younger or of his relationship with Kimberly Williams.Read more ›
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Ilya Grigorik on April 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Having just finished Agassi's "Open" (highly recommend it), I immediately picked up "Champion's Mind" hoping to relive the action through another pair of eyes. Unfortunately, for a game that puts so much stress both physically and mentally on the player, this autobiography reads more like a mechanical recollection of the matches, with a few offhand remarks about the opponent or key points in the game. Sampras was, and still remains an extremely private person, and unfortunately this book does little to help us understand the game, or the player. This time, game, set, match goes to Agassi's "Open" - now there's a book any tennis fan should not miss.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ancphat on August 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you read this book AFTER Agassi's Open, you will be disappointed because the tones of the two are totally different. Sampras' books is as Sampras is. I could see why some reviewers said it's boring. Through the book you could see Sampras as the person of who he is: highly disciplined, focused, quiet, and introvert. And that is how the book comes about. Towards the end Sampras seems to come out of his shell some. Reading his autobiography and you will see, understand and appreciate what it takes to remain No. 1 for such a long time. I don't mind the stats at the beginning of each chapter. That just more represents Sampras of who he is, the athlete who's very focused and disciplined in the sports of his choosing. All the data might be boring to some readers, but you get several tips out of the book as a tennis player because here and there he would share his mentality/tactics/strategies of how he played especially against different kinds of players. He even provided his opinions/analysis of each top player in his time. All those represent the book title, A Champion's Mind.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By SK on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I cracked open the book on a transatlantic red-eye flight thinking that I would read a couple of chapters to put me to sleep. Boy, was I wrong! I finally slept but only after finishing the book.
I am a tennis nut but I thought the content would be appreciated even by people that aren't tennis nuts. He covers his career and key matches but there is a lot of coverage given to people, his relationships and what made him a champion. It is difficult to walk the fine line of sounding confident without coming across as arrogant but Pete Sampras does a good job of that throughout the book like he did/does in real life - he talks about the Gift and how he went about harnessing it. He has very candid commentary about a number of other fellow pros like McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Federer, etc. He talks about his relationships and competition with his generation of American players (Agassi, Courier and Chang) in a lot of detail as well as his relationship with his coaches through the years. All in all, if you are a tennis fan (or follow sports in general), this is a must read!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Laurent Fournier on February 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you are a tennis fan, you're gonna enjoy reading this book as it describes an interesting period in the history of the game. It will remind you the opposition that existed at the time, from the perspective of Pete Sampras.
But you are also going to understand pretty fast that the book's content is much like Pete Sampras's game: it all happens frustratingly simply... There is very little depth in the analysis of the different periods of Sampras ascension to the top, of his matches and opponents, of his strategies, and of his dilemmas... It just happens... like his unbelievable serve...
To Pete's credit, he does try (or is it his co-writer ?) to add some psychological depth to his book, but this has very little strength. Compare this to Brad Gilbert's book (winning ugly) or even Mc Enroe's "You can't be serious" books which really make you enter their world... I guess it is one of the keys of Pete's formidable success: his game did not force him to think much, and that matches what the fantastic book, "The inner game of tennis" recommends...
A good example is his explanation about his backhand. Pete happened to have a 2-hand backhand at the beginning of his career. Since this did not match his style and his willingness to win Wimbledon, he was forced to move to a one-hand backhand, with the obvious problems this can cause... This is a very interesting event, which I suppose many of us would be interested in hearing, but again... yes, he had difficulties at the beginning (losing to Chang)... but it just happened that he suddenly had a good one-hand backhand (well, a decent one).
Just a weird (for me) comment he makes: He says that the Aussi guy Philippoussi was one of the most talented players on the circuit.
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