Jimmy Connors: A Bad Boy who Danced to his own Song
Posted: August 30, 2015
Updated: October 6, 2017
Jimmy Connors was shy off the court and entertaining on the court.
Jimmy Connors held the world number one ranking for a combined total of 268 weeks. The holder of three major records, Connors won 109 titles, played 1532 matches and won 1254 matches. Although he turned pro in 1972, he kept playing competitively for 16 years. He was known for being highly competitive, difficult towards many of his peers and boorish. Yet he knew how to entertain the crowd and became a favorite.
• Connors won 109 titles, played 1532 matches and won 1254 matches
• He held onto the world number one ranking for 268 weeks
• The former number one sued the ATP for limiting his freedom on court
Connors made US gambling news from his ruthlessness on the court. As the nastiness of Connor dwindled with age, his adoration by fans only grew. In his autobiography “The Outsider”, Connors gave credit to his rage for beating the even meaner Ilie Nastase at Wimbledon in 1973 and the infamous John McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1982. “What was I angry about? Sometimes I was just angry about the morning. It was all there inside.”
Jimmy Connors early years of anger
Jimmy Connors was born and raised in East St. Louis, Illinois. Although it wasn’t America’s national sport, tennis was steadily growing popular in the mid 1960’s and Connors took to it early. At eight, while playing tennis at the public courts, the future champion saw his mother and grandparents physically brutalized by two neighborhood men. With his mother receiving more than 100 stitches and dealing with her injuries for the remainder of her life, Connors was forever scarred.
Connors used that incident to succeed on the court. “When I needed something to push me to another level during matches, I would remember that day. I needed something extra a lot of the time. Looking back, I can see why I played with so much rage.” That rage helped him a year later when he played in his first U.S. Championship 11 and under tournament. At 16, Connor’s mother took him to Pancho Segura for coaching.
In 1970, Connors reached his first victory at the Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles. Soon Connors would enroll at the University of California at Los Angeles and held All-American status. There, he won the NCAA singles title and turned professional the following year. On his refusal to join the Association of Tennis Professionals, Connors quickly earned his “maverick” status and the bad boy was born. This birth would have been the perfect time for mobile betting.
Connors first major singles victory was at US Pro Single where he defeated the legendary Arthur Ashe in five sets. In 1974, Connors had a 99-4 record and won three Grand Slam titles out his 15 tournaments. The maverick’s association with World Team Tennis, a separate co-ed tennis league, prohibited him from participating in the French Open. Connors was able to secure the U.S. Open final for five consecutive years, winning three times.
Jimmy Connors continued to dominate and fuel rivalries
Connors had a decent relationship with Nastase and the two were considered “pals.” Nastase, 11 years Connor’s senior, mentored the young maverick. Although Nastase won the first 10 of their 11 encounters, Connors won 11 of their last 14. Regardless of his rivals, Connors felt mostly solitude as he mentioned in his book. “I might have dipped a toe on the inside, but really I was always better on my own.”
Often calling the 1970’s the “Wild West show”, Connors saw himself as a character. “My job was to make the crowd go crazy. Anything else they got was a bonus, but tennis was always the show that drew people in.” Winning only four out of 12 meetings, Bjorn Borg proved to be Connor’s biggest challenge. He admitted his affection for his peers. “I liked a lot those guys. Maybe they didn’t like me and the way I played, but that was what it took for me to be what I became.”
What the Maverick became was the winner of eight Grand Slam championships which included five U.S. Opens, two Wimbledons and one Australian Open. Off the court however Connor’s life wasn’t as smooth as his court play appeared. Having a popularized relationship with tennis legend Chris Evert, the two were engaged before they were 20. Connors portrayed the young Evert in his book as “promiscuous” and when she was pregnant decided to get an abortion despite his desire to keep the child.
Connors ended up marrying former Playboy model Patti McGuire who he remained married to until this day. The Maverick filed a lawsuit against the ATP for “restricting his freedom” in tennis. This was in part to Connors ban from playing the French Open. Connors irked sponsors by avoiding the Masters championships for three consecutive years. Although he could’ve brought serious money to online sportsbooks in the US, Connors made less than USD 8.5 million in his whole career.