The Outsider: A Memoir

The Outsider: A Memoir

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by Jimmy Connors
     
 

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The Outsider is a no-holds-barred memoir by the original bad boy of tennis, Jimmy Connors.

Connors ignited the tennis boom in the 1970s with his aggressive style of play, turning his matches with John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, and Ivan Lendl into prizefights. But it was his prolonged dedication to his craft that won him the public’s adoration. He capped

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Overview

The Outsider is a no-holds-barred memoir by the original bad boy of tennis, Jimmy Connors.

Connors ignited the tennis boom in the 1970s with his aggressive style of play, turning his matches with John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, and Ivan Lendl into prizefights. But it was his prolonged dedication to his craft that won him the public’s adoration. He capped off one of the most remarkable runs in tennis history at the age of 39 when he reached the semifinals of the 1991 U.S. Open, competing against players half his age.

More than just the story of a tennis champion, The Outsider is the uncensored account of Connors' life, from his complicated relationship with his formidable mother and his storybook romance with tennis legend Chris Evert, to his battles with gambling and fidelity that threatened to derail his career and his long-lasting marriage to Playboy playmate Patti McGuire.  

When he retired from tennis twenty years ago, Connors all but disappeared from public view. In The Outsider, he is back at the top of his game, and as feisty, outspoken, and defiant as ever.

This autobiography includes original color photographs from the author.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Four decades after his heyday, the controversial tennis star serves up a suitably cocky autobiography. It doesn't take Connors long--three pages, in fact--to get to the word "arrogant," which might have been coined to describe him. He delivers numerous reasons for why he might have been overweeningly proud, including the fact that he rose from a not-so-nice childhood in not-so-nice East St. Louis to become one of the most lauded players of the day. Repeatedly, however, he tells us that he has OCD ("Yup. I have it. Didn't know that, did you?"), which, if not entirely effective as an excuse for some of his bad behavior--including, as he later admits, a gambling addiction--at least explains some of it. If readers soon get the feeling that Connors wouldn't be the ideal choice of seatmate on a long plane ride, the better parts of his book describe not his prideful unpleasantness, but the business of tennis, from the importance of early coaching (in his case, by both his mother and grandmother) to the deep rivalries that exist among champions. One whom Connors says didn't like him one bit was Arthur Ashe, who had good reason, since Connors once painted Romanian tennis star Ilie Nastase in blackface before a doubles game with Ashe. ("We weren't all that bright back then, to say the least," he writes.) Connors is chatty, gossipy--Nastase thoroughly disliked German player Hans-Jürgen Pohmann, he writes, and even called him a Nazi after a match--insightful and often, yes, arrogant, which makes this book a solid match of object and subject. It could have benefited from the self-reflection of an R.A. Dickey, but a readable autobiography all the same.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061242991
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/14/2013
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
312,526
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Jimmy Connors won a record 109 men's singles titles (and fifteen doubles titles) from 1972 to 1989. He was ranked the world's number-one player for five consecutive years and won a total of ten Grand Slams. In 1998 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and he is arguably one of the top tennis players of all time. Originally from East St. Louis, he lives in Santa Barbara, California, with his family.

Read an Excerpt

The Outsider


By Jimmy Connors

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Jimmy Connors
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-124299-1


1
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
I'm 29 years old and for the last three years people have been telling
me I'm finished, washed up, done.
That doesn't sit well with me. I'll say when I'm done and I'm
not done yet. I haven't even reached my peak. Screw 'em.
It's 1981 and I lost my hold on the number one ranking in the
world in the previous year, and even though I've claimed 17 titles
since then, I haven't won a major tournament. There's an element of
doubt creeping into my daily training: Do I still belong? Can I still
compete at this level? I'm not winning. I'm being pushed onto the
back burner. That's hard to take.
I'm up, I'm down. I think I'm good and then I don't win. I get up
every day and do the right things, but the results aren't improving.
I'm getting to the semifinals, and I'm losing matches I should win.
Not good enough. Winning lesser tournaments along the way is
fine, but it's not the majors and that's what I'm looking for. Anyone
else in those years would have been content with my record— but
not me and obviously not the media. This has been the most frus-
trating three years of my career.
“You're not going to reach your prime until your thirties,” my
mom keeps telling me. “My prime? What the hell, Mom? What was
the last six or seven years about?”
“You wait,” she says. “You haven't played your best tennis yet.”
My wife, Patti, our two- year- old son, Brett, and I are living in

2 / JIMMY CONNORS
North Miami at Turnberry Isle, Florida. We moved down from
Los Angeles for the tennis, but distractions are everywhere. This
is a playground for the wealthy. Rich people come here from all
over the world for the gambling, discos, restaurants, golf, and— I'm
guessing— drugs. In the evenings I can go down to the courts and
play tennis against guys who bet $5,000 a set they can beat me if I
play them right- handed. Guess what? They can't. The extra cash is
nice, but the fun and laughs is what it's really all about. But I have
only one thing on my mind: reclaiming my position at the top of
the tennis world.
I continue to work my ass off every day, practicing two and a
half hours in the morning with the Turnberry Club tennis pro, Fred
Stolle, a former Grand Slam champion from Australia. He stands in
one corner of the court and hits the ball to the opposite corner so I
have to run the whole width of the court in order to return the shot.
Then he moves to the other corner and I do the same thing from the
other side. Then Fred comes up to the net and stands over on the right
side so that my forehand passing shots have to go up the line and my
backhand has to go crosscourt. Every drill I do is designed to replicate
a situation I'm going to face against my toughest opponents. I've never
hit a shot in a match that I haven't practiced over and over.
Later in the day I play a couple of sets with my longtime friend
David Schneider, a former top South African player, who practices
with me whenever I want to fine- tune what I worked on with Fred
that morning. Afterward, David and I have a Coke and relax as bud-
dies. It's nice to let tennis go and be able to talk about other things.
It's difficult balancing tennis with family life, my friends. When
I'm with my family, I feel like I'm slighting the tennis. When I'm
practicing, I feel like I'm slighting my family. When I get up at 6:30
a.m., Brett is eating breakfast and watching The Smurfs. I want to
spend time with him, but I know I have work to do on the court.

THE OUTSIDER / 3
When I'm playing tennis, I feel I should be spending time at the pool
with Brett and Patti. There are conflicts everywhere I turn. When
friends visit, I want to go out and have fun with them, stay out late,
but then I am slighting both my tennis and my family. If I go down
to the restaurant for breakfast I'll see 10 people I'm obliged to say
hello to and that will hold up my day.
Mom is on the phone. I talk to her at least 10 times a day. This
may sound like a lot, but Mom is also my business manager. My
schedule is made six months in advance, so not only is she “checking
in” as a mother, mother- in- law, and grandmother; she is letting me
know about commercial offers, upcoming tournaments, and all the
numerous details involved in my career.
If any of the calls lasts more than a few seconds, it's because she
knows I'm having problems. She's concerned about me. I have to
push myself further than I want to, train harder, practice longer. I'm
older and things don't come as easily now. I don't mind the physi-
cal part. It's getting into the right mental state that I find tough. I
haven't been winning the way I expect to, but I have to find a way
to act as if I am, so I won't talk myself out of it. I don't want to fall
into that trap of saying, “Oh, shit, maybe they're right. Maybe I am
finished.” I have to find my self- confidence, even though I'm not
sure where I left it. Things aren't working out for me, so to get my-
self through it I have to be twice as arrogant. That's how I'll cope. I
can't go out there and just be half- assed; I've got to go all the way. I
have to be prepared, I have to be in the
(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Outsider by Jimmy Connors. Copyright © 2013 Jimmy Connors. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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