A Champion's Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis
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A Champion's Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  706 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Pete Sampras is arguably the greatest tennis player ever, a man whose hard-nosed work ethic led to an unprecedented number one world ranking for 286 weeks, and whose prodigious talent made possible a record-setting fourteen Grand Slam titles. While his more vocal rivals sometimes grabbed the headlines, Pete always preferred to let his racket do the talking.

Until now.

In A...more
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Published June 10th 2008 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2008)
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Tania


I just finish the autobiography of Pete Sampras and have mixed feelings about it. During the time at which he competed with Agassi and there was the rivalry among them I always tended to side with Sampras. I liked better Sampras´s personality, the quintessential gentleman, a class act. With time Sampras retired, Agassi married Steffi Graff, got rid of its irreverent wardrobe, shaved his colorful hair, in other words, he matured, and my respect grew for him not only for the athlete but for the hu...more
Aaron
After reading Andre Agassi's autobiography, I felt the need to looking into the autobiography for his long-time rival Pete Sampras. While I enjoyed the book, I was a little disappointed by the fact that the book really is an overview of his professional life.

With all fairness to Sampras, the subtitle (Lessons from a Life in Tennis) should have made it clear that he was going to be focusing mostly on his time on the courts. I just would have liked to know more about him as a person and those arou...more
Loy Machedo

The greatest competitors in the computer industry were Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

The greatest competitors in the Action movies genre were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

And the greatest competitors in the Tennis World…among the many, were Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

No other rivalry matched the intensity these two had.

When I was young, I remember watching the matches of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi on TV, even though I was brought up in a conservative middle class Indian househo...more
Beth666ann
Oh, Pete Sampras. You are just not that interesting, but you do make me think about the psyche that goes into making a champion. Champion athletes must be very level and consistent and focused. You tell us that you don't like to "make too much of things," which means you don't like to think/overthink too much, which again is what athletes have to do to perform. The problem is, this mindset/tendency does not exactly make for a reflective person or a great memoir. But I do admire you for your cons...more
Lauri
I so liked Pete Sampras & hoped to somehow run into him at the ATP tournament and fall in love despite the fact that I was in high school. The book was okay - really there aren't a lot of surprises in there. Also, he's still very private. I remember seeing Kimberly Williams at his matches for awhile, but for all the casual reader can guess is that his wife was his first girlfriend. I can see it's a compliment to her that he leaves others out, but there's a way to tell something.
OTOH, there a...more
Lance
Rating:
5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)

Review:
Pete Sampras retired from tennis holding the record for most career Grand Slam victories and his journey to setting that record is chronicled here in his autobiography that covers his tennis career. I added that last phrase to the sentence because unlike most biographies or autobiographies on athletes, this book focuses solely on his tennis career. There are stories about his childhood, but they are about the development of his game during his youth when...more
Marc Baldwin
Having read Agassi's book within the last year, this book paled a little bit in comparison. I'm a tennis fan, so I enjoyed hearing about the purely tennis thoughts from Sampras, but just as he was criticized for during his tennis career, this book lacked emotion. I read it because I thought that he might reveal a little bit more about the emotions that he surely must have felt during his years as a champion. But he didn't. There is an attempt to justify his lack of emotion as a player, and it ma...more
Hannah
This book is just what I should have expected but didn't. For a brief time, I thought I might actually learn about Pete the man. The book does give a much more thorough look at Pete's career in tennis and the overall field during the Open Era.

Despite that insider's view of men's professional tennis, there is still this nagging feeling that although I've read a book by and about my favorite tennis player of all time, I know very little more about the man than I did before reading the book. Is th...more
Lucy Montgomery
I have never been a big Pete Sampras fan, and really only read A Champion's Mind because a pro told me that it was interesting in comparison to Open, Andre Agassi's recent autobiography. I was hugely surprised to find the book was a very interesting read and that Sampras is a much nicer guy than I expected (in fact, Pete reminded me a lot of my son, which helped me relate to him right away). It was interesting to read about the 1990s era of tennis (and Andre Agassi) from another perspective, but...more
Scott
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is the second tennis autobiography I’ve read—the first being John McEnroe’s. This one in particular impacted me because reading it was like a trip down memory lane. The early years of Pete’s tennis career coincided with the years when I first started playing and watching tennis (the majority of his career spanned the years of my life between ages 15 and 27). I was a big fan of Pete’s and admired his immense talent, but he wasn’t my favorite player of the day—...more
Dose
This is an outstanding piece of work that bestows us with a glimpse of one of the most phenomenal tennis players of all time. Pete Sampras was one of my role models growing up and he still is to this very day even after years of retirement. In his breathtaking autobiography, he candidly reveals all his trials and tribulations that acted as various stepping stones to lead him to all his glory and success. He made a lot of difficult sacrifices to succeed in his career with his hard-nosed work ethi...more
Harold Bloom Jr
I'm obsessed with studying the mindsets of what Malcolm Gladwell calls 'Outliers'. What makes them different from the mass of also-rans? What was their work ethic like? What kind of sacrifices they made?

And 'Pete Sampras: A Champion's Mind' is a masterpiece. This is the best sport autobiography I read since Steve Waugh's 'Out of My Comfort Zone'. And just like with Waugh's baggy monster, I'm tempted to read and reread Sampras's book as a self-help guide.

But don't let my use of the term 'self-h...more
Joe Healy
What ends up hurting Pete's book for me is the fact that I read Agassi's "Open" first.

For me, Open is what every sports biography should aspire to be. Granted, not every athlete has skeletons in the closet like Agassi had, but the book left no stone unturned in telling the story of Agassi's upbringing and career. Upon finishing it, I felt like I had a good grasp on Agassi's story even though I was too young to remember much of his career.

Sampras' book reads like a more traditional sports biogr...more
Vishal
Recently, I completed an autobiography about John McEnroe and thought it was one of the best books I have read. With this thought, I moved on to finding another great autobiography of another tennis legend. I found the book, A Champion's Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis by Pete Sampras, to be another terrific autobiography. Sampras, arguably considered to be the greatest tennis player, reveals his true colors in this book. On the court and publicly, Pete never revealed any emotions; none at a...more
Nancy
In the intro to Pete's book, "he" writes for the first of what seems like 250 times that he was accused of being boring before/during/after his illustrious tennis career. And that this book is his attempt at showing his fans and extended family the real Pete Sampras. Well, I love you, Pete, but you just confirmed with me and everyone else that you are indeed very boring.

And that's really okay. While Pete does not have a fascinating or dramatic (or even particularly interesting) social/family lif...more
Renee
I didn’t pick this book up because I am a tennis fan of any measure, I picked it up because a few months ago I read “Open” by Andre Agassi and it was one of the best memoirs I ever read. In fact, it was deemed one of the best sports memoirs ever written.

Sadly, there is no comparison to Agassi’s book. “A Champions Mind” reads like a rote recollection of Sampras tennis matches over the span of his great career.

There is absolutely no insight to who this man is, what makes him tick, and what drives...more
Michael Scott
A Champion's Mind is the auto-biography of Pete Sampras, who is one of the top tennis players of all-time; Sampras is still (in 2009) the only player to have been ranked #1 in the world for six consecutive years, and the holder of the second-most wins of Grand Slams (the highest ranked world tennis tournaments) after Roger Federer. The book reflects well Sampras' self-description, that is, it is a solid, no-frills account of a super-consistent tennis career. In particular, there aren't many surp...more
Kristie Rodas
I wish I could give 1/2 stars. This one would get 4 1/2. It was a little slow at the beginning, mainly because I felt like it was focusing on what was happening in matches rather than what was going on in Pete's head. As the book got going, however, it did talk about what was going on personally as well.

I always loved watching Pete play tennis--he was amazing and always seemed very humble. He was also very private though so generally people didn't know a lot about him. After reading the book, I...more
Mary Catherine
Anyone who knows me knows that I was somewhat obsessed with Pete when he was playing. I was almost late to my own wedding because it was the same weekend as his last, victorious US Open!

So I was excited when I heard about this book. It's a very insightful look into Pete's life and the tennis world. It is very tennis-centered, and doesn't delve that deeply into his personal life. (Which I guess shouldn't be a huge surprise, given the way Pete conducted himself while in the limelight.) I liked the...more
Rishabh P
A Champion's Mind is an action packed biography of tennis champion, Pete Sampras. This well written book highlights Sampras's junior career and carries you forward on how he becomes a champion pro player. Pete Sampras was a determined and talented aspiring young player. This book also shows his hardships and his lack-luster attitude and how he eventually matures and becomes a successful tennis player.
Personally, as a reader I enjoyed this biography, it had a very good moral and plot. It is for h...more
Tej Rathore
A good book. We can't undermine what he's achieved. But in the end, it seems a little too much about Pete Sampras! But then, isn't that the point?
Harpal
Only for tennis fans. There's not a whole lot that's interesting for the non-fan. I can basically summarize it as follows: Pete Sampras was really talented, worked really hard, and won a lot.

Now, if you are a tennis fan, the most interesting part will probably come at the end, where Sampras has a glossary of his rivals, where he discusses the strengths and weakness of various players and how he fared against them. This is by far the most interesting part. Within the book itself there's little th...more
Lauren
i liked agassi's book a lot more, more humor and much more of a hook. pete's book was good, but i probably wouldn't read it again
Rand
Great to get the firsthand story from one of the all-time greats of tennis. I was a little let down by it though--it is not as thoughtful a book as the title led me to expect. Sampras largely recaps his tennis career. He does exhibit a refreshing candor and reveals his emotional life during the ups and downs over the years, but Pete is not one for deep reflection or philosophizing. Warning: his descriptions of his mental state during particular matches, especially the important ones, will make y...more
Lisa Neal
I'm a huge tennis fan. I chose this book because I've recently read the autobiographies of Agassi (loved it), McEnroe (liked it) and Connors (hated it). Pete Sampras was a champion tennis player, but I usually found him bland and/or emotionless. Although this book was not bad, it really was just a replay of his great career. He was respectful of his opponents (which I greatly appreciated after having just read Connors' pompous baloney) and honest, but bland. I don't regret having read it, but I...more
Rob
Good book. Sampras was the man! Particularly enjoyable when he was describing all the numerous matches with rivals like Agassi, Becker, and Courier. It's always interesting to get athlete's take on the great matches of his/ her career. Doesn't get too in depth with his personal life but does mention the relationship he had with his late coach Tim Gullickson -- very emotional. If you were a Sampras fan and watched as he won so many big matches like the 1990 US Open -- read this book. It's like re...more
Bill
took about 2 hours with the Champ, intrigued by DFW's piece on Roger Federer and my own memories, and renewed in terest in the game... and in focus. Was with him until he describe meeting his wife... here's the short version: "saw her in a movie. thought she was hot. got a date. met her... she was really hot.. the hottest... so I married her." it's at that point that the balance between jock brain and zen master tipped toward the former in my estimation and I never quite got it back.

Leslie
As a longtime Sampras fan, I had to read to pay tribute to the champ. Pete was an incredibly focused kid. From a young age, he knew he would be the best tennis player in the world. Lots of kids dream of it, but he knew it. Because of his intense focus on his game, the rest of his life seemed a bit boring. But he was, and remains, a rare gentleman of tennis and a true champion. I would recommend this book to Sampras fans. For others, try reading this before bed. It will help put you to sleep!
Jeremy
A Champions Minds is a really cool book that fully covers what it is like to be what Pete Sampras was: a champion of tennis. And who hates reading about one of the greatest sports players ever? Throughout my experience reading, I have really gripped Pete Sampras's feeling of when he first won a grand slam tournament, to when he lost a match, and to when close friends have left. Overall, I think that this is a fantastic book and I totally recommend it to all tennis fans.
Jay
A bit of a mundane book that basically recounts Pete Sampras's important matches. He's fairly guarded in his writing, not revealing much of himself. But for the avid tennis fan, it's worth reading. My main dislike is that Sampras comes off as someone always having a excuse for his losses. My opinion of Pete has gone down a bit. I read this after reading Andre Agassi's book, and the chasm between the two is quite large.
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