The Outsider: A Memoirby Jimmy Connors
Jimmy Connors is a working-man's hero, a people's champion who could tear the cover off a tennis ball, just as he tore the cover off the country-club gentility of his sport. A renegade from the wrong side of the tracks, Connors broke the rules with a radically aggressive style of play and bad-boy antics that turned his matches into prizefights. In 1974 alone, he… See more details below
Jimmy Connors is a working-man's hero, a people's champion who could tear the cover off a tennis ball, just as he tore the cover off the country-club gentility of his sport. A renegade from the wrong side of the tracks, Connors broke the rules with a radically aggressive style of play and bad-boy antics that turned his matches into prizefights. In 1974 alone, he won 95 out of 99 matches, all of them while wearing the same white shorts he washed in the sink of his hotel bathrooms. Though he lived the rock star life away from tennis, his enduring dedication to his craft earned him eight Grand Slam singles titles and kept him among the top ten best players in the world for sixteen straight years—five at number one.
In The Outsider, Connors tells the complete, uncensored story of his life and career, setting the record straight about his formidable mother, Gloria; his very public romance with America's sweetheart Chris Evert; his famous opponents, including Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Arthur Ashe, Ivan Lendl, and Rod Laver; his irrepressible co-conspirators Ilie Nastase and Vitas Gerulaitis; and his young nemesis Andre Agassi. Connors reveals how his issues with obsessive-compulsive disorder, dyslexia, gambling, and women at various times threatened to derail his career and his long-lasting marriage to Playboy Playmate Patti McGuire.
Presiding over an era that saw tennis attract a new breed of passionate fans—from cops to tycoons—Connors transformed the game forever with his two-handed backhand, his two-fisted lifestyle, and his epic rivalries.
The Outsider is a grand slam of a memoir written by a man once again at the top of his game—as feisty, unvarnished, and defiant as ever.
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By Jimmy Connors
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2013 Jimmy Connors
All rights reserved.
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
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.
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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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Jimmy Connors turned tennis into a rock star lifestyle with bad boy antics galore. His story is unconventional and well told. Five stars.
Jimmy Connors's The Outsider is a fascinating look into the life of one of tennis's greatest heroes (or antihero in some cases). Connors is very honest and forthcoming about his personal life and professional life. The stories are all very interesting, particularly his relationship with his mother.
Loved this book. Two thumbs up.
As a tennis player from back in tennis' heyday, I was excited to read Jimmy's story, but unfortunately I have found it somewhat disappointing. Jimmy writes as he plays, with a chip on his shoulder which I have found tiring. He has revealed some interesting facts, especially about his mom and grandmother, but it's his writing style that has made it a read that I have struggled to finish. Sorry Jimmy, I enjoyed Agassi's better. I also believe it is better to kiss and NOT tell.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Unlike a lot of other autobiographies, Connors doesn't sugar coat his life story. I was a big fan of his in the 70's and 80's. and appreciated the insights into his values, family, and life on tour. I agree with his assertion that current tennis players don't understand how to entertain the crowd. I haven't been interested enough to watch a match in quite a while. The book was well-written and the content was balanced between personal and professional. I highly recommend it. I never took Agassi seriously, so I never had an interest in his autobiography.
If you are a tennis player, you will want to read this book. It is not as exciting as Andre Agassi's book, but Connors' totally honesty and true love of the game will keep you reading. There are plenty of words of wisdom from his family, friends and advisors, and some good tips of ways to approach your game. Read it!
Great book and well worth the read! I've read just about every tennis book there is and this is my new favorite! It's refreshingly honest and brings a full circle to anyone who was able to see Conners play tennis in his heyday. I certainly was never a Conners fan, though appreciated his fantastic run at his final US Open. It's surprisingly very well written and If there wasn't a "ghost writer", then I hope Conners gets credit for this masterpiece. This is in my opinion, which by the way, is unbiased and from one with a degree in journalism.
Excellent read! Connors' take on tennis in the '70s and '80s is just as I remember it - plenty of spirited play and outsized personalities. Today's tennis would surely benefit from even a fraction of the 'playing to the crowd' fun they had back then. Jimmy tells it like he saw it - and lived it. Very frank and entertaining book.
I saw Jimmy in the Tonight Show and I was interested in reading the book. I am glad I read the book. It got my T-2000 from storage. He changed the world of tennis and made it a sport for the common person instead of the country club folks. Thanks "Jimbo" for your contribution to the sport.
I loved this book. I found out a lot of interesting facts that I never knew about Jimmy Connors and pro tennis. The book was entertaining as well. The pictures were great. I plan on giving this book as a gift to a few of my friends as birthday gifts because I know they will enjoy it too.
I finished this book in two days. It is a very good read especially for those of us who grew up watching Connors, McEnroe and Everett. Highly recommend.
I have only begun reading this memoir by Jimmy. Always one of my favorite tennis players. His exuberance comes through the same in the book as on the court. Seems very truthful, honest. Appreciate the pictures also.
Jimmy, your book reads like your tennis; fast, inspired, and thoroughly entertaining. Believe it or not, I even raised my own confidence on the court after reading your book!! Thank you, and please come back to the game.
For an autobiograhy great read. Big Connors fan and really enjoyed this from first page. I could not finish the Aggasi one.
Very interesting story and definitely not a struggle to read. Mr. Connors doesn't write like an author, but his writing style is what makes the book his. Well done.
Met Jimmy at the B&N book signing. It was a tthrill to meet an American icon with such a charasmatic personality. The book answers many questions and is a good read for any tennis fan, especially for us baby boomers. Glad to see Jimbo looking good!!
If you love that era of tennis this a great look back