The winner of eight Grand Slam singles titles, Jimmy Connors is a former World No.1 tennis player who held the No. 1 ranking for 160 consecutive weeks from 29 July, 1974 to 22 August, 1977—a record in his era. A brilliant player, he also holds the honor of being the first male player in the Open Era to have held the top world ranking for more than five years in total. An athletic kid from a young age, Jimmy always loved to play tennis. His mother, a former tennis player herself, was a big support to him during his growing years. In fact, his mother was such a fan of tennis that she created a court in her backyard while she was pregnant with him! She taught him how to play tennis when he was a young boy and ensured that he got the best possible coaching as he grew up. He started competing at the national level as a kid of nine, and went from success to success from there. Famous for his strong arms, high energy, and dedication towards the game, he was equally notorious for his fiery demeanor and temper. After his retirement as an active tennis player he embarked on a career as a commentator and coach.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as James Scott Connors, Jr., to James Connors and his wife Gloria Thompson. His father worked as a toll bridge attendant while his mother was a former tennis player. He has one elder brother, Johnny.
He was primarily raised by his mother and grandmother and was taught to play tennis from a young age. His mother was very passionate about the sport and fortunately Jimmy inherited her passion.
Though initially coached by his mother, he was mentored by Pancho Segura from 1968 in order to groom him for a professional tennis career.
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The first significant victory of his playing career came in 1970, when he defeated Roy Emerson in the first round of the Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles.
At that time he was attending the University of California, Los Angeles, and decided to drop out to pursue a professional tennis career. He turned pro in 1972. At about the same time, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) was formed which he refused to join, reinstating his rebellious nature.
In 1973, he played against the legendary Arthur Ashe in the U.S. Pro Singles in a five-set final which he won. This was just the beginning of his rise to stardom in the tennis world!
The year 1974 was a great one for the promising player. He won three Grand Slam tournaments—Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. He was named the No.1 male tennis player that year.
Starting from 1974, he reached the final of the U.S. Open in five consecutive years and won three of them. What made him especially skilled was the fact that he had won each of these on a different surface—grass in 1974, clay in 1976 and hard in 1978.
His streak of success continued into the 1980s. Playing in the World Championship Tennis (WCT) finals in 1980, he defeated the defending champion, John McEnroe, who was one of the most formidable players of that time.
Some of his major competitors during the 1980s were John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Bj�rn Borg. He defeated Ivan in the 1982 U.S. Open final in spite of the fact that Ivan was seven years younger than him.
However age and health issues were catching up on him and his career suffered during the late 1980s. But he silenced his detractors when in the 1991 U.S. Open Semifinals he defeated Aaron Krickstein. Connors was 39 while Aaron was 24 and in the prime of his youth! He played his last match in April 1996 and retired as a tennis player.
During the later years of his playing career, he had also started commentating on NBC-TV. He commentated on the French Open and Wimbledon tournaments in 1990 and 1991. He also commentated during the Wimbledon tournaments of 2005, 2006, and 2007.
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He embarked on a career as a coach in 2006 when he began coaching Andy Roddick at the start of the Countrywide Classic tournament in Los Angeles.
He published his autobiography, ‘The Outsider’ in 2013. The book won the British Sports Book Awards in the Best Autobiography/Biography category.
Awards & Achievements
Winner of eight Grand Slam singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles, Jimmy Connors dominated the world of tennis throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The first male player to have held the No. 1 rank in world tennis, there is no doubt he is one of the legends who made tennis their passion.His Grand Slam single titles include: Australian Open (1974), Wimbledon (1974, 1982), US Open (1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983)
In 1982, he was named the World Champion by The International Tennis Federation (ITF).
He received Player of the Year Award from The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in 1982 and the Comeback Player of the Year Award from the same organization in 1991.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married former Playboy model, Patti McGuire, in 1979. The couple is blessed with two children.
This brilliant former world No.1 tennis player was notorious for his brash, rude, and often vulgar on-court behavior.