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The Outsider By Jimmy Connors

Release date: 30th May, 2013
Publisher: Bantam Press

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £10.00
You Save: £8.99 (47%)
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It’s unclear how much writing of his autobiography Jimmy Connors actually did, but there’s no doubt that The Outsider is the story of a fascinating character.

In fact, it may strike readers that the book’s title is a little misleading. Connors was less an outsider and more a forerunner of the archetypal tennis brat, replete with overbearing ‘tennis mom’, Gloria, of the type we’ve all come to know and love.

At the age of three, young Jimmy had a racquet thrust into his hands. It proved far too heavy and accounted for his accomplished execution of a two-handed backhand throughout an enormously successful professional career. Naturally, Connors took to tennis like a duck to water and by the time he was a teenager, he was a burgeoning star.

He moved with his mother from East St Louis, Illinois, to Los Angeles where a friend of Gloria’s, Pancho Segura, coached at the Beverley Hills Tennis Club. Here, Connors started playing for $20 a set with Hollywood celebrities before winning a tennis scholarship to UCLA. Education was not Jimmy’s cup of tea, however, so he dropped out and became a full-time professional.

He went on to secure a staggering 109 tournament victories during the 1970s and 1980s, successes which included eight major championships. During the seventies, he was the world number one for a then unprecedented five consecutive years.

Connors’ Achilles heel was the oft-lethal combination of drinking and gambling. He would bet on anything – The Outsider recalls one occasion when he took $70,000 in tournament winnings out of his racquet case and placed it all on one draw at the blackjack table. He lost.

Armed with the benefit of hindsight, he regrets the ease with which so much money trickled through his hands. Perhaps he was merely gullible, for the high-profile sportsman can be easy prey for the unscrupulous.

On court, Connors was a showman, an entertaining player with an easy smile which belied the effort expended in pushing his way into tennis’s aristocracy.

He ends his book by suggesting that everyone would love to see him return. Not quite, but if tennis could serve up another entertainer in the Connors mould, few fans would be unhappy.


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