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Tennis great Jimmy Connors, also known as "jimbo", was born September 2, 1952, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Born James Scott Connors, Jimmy Connors is a former World No. 1 American tennis player. He held the top ranking for 160 consecutive weeks from July 29, 1974 through August 29, 1977 and an additional eight times during his career for a total of 268 weeks. He won eight Grand Slam singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles with Ilie Nastase and was the mixed doubles runner-up with Chris Evert at the 1974 US Open. He is considered to be one of the top male tennis players of all time. He is a former coach of Andy Roddick, the winner of the 2003 US Open.
Jimmy Connors was considered a fiesty wiseguy in his earlier days, and he eventually became a respected elder. The championships, honors and prize money piled up, but not as high as his zeal as he continued to compete forcefully against much younger men into his 41st year. And through the 1992 season, he roused galleries in Paris, London and New York and compiled a 17-15 match record, ending the season with a remarkable No. 83 ranking.
Although Connors never won the French Open, his victory at the 1976 US Open came during the brief period (1975 through 1977) when that tournament was held on clay courts. Connors is, therefore, one of only three men (Mats Wilander and Andre Agassi are the others) to have won a Grand Slam singles title on grass courts, hard courts, and clay courts.
Jimmy Connors also won the U.S. Open singles championship itself on on grass courts, hard courts, and clay courts, the only man to accomplish that trio of wins.
In 1970, Connors played his first international matches and recorded his first significant victory in the first round of the Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles, defeating Roy Emerson. In 1971, Connors won the NCAA singles title while attending the University of California, Los Angeles. He turned professional in 1972 and won his first tournament at Jacksonville.
Jimmy Connors acquired a reputation as a maverick in 1972 when he refused to join the newly formed Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the union that was embraced by most male professional players. He avoided the mainstream of professional tennis to play in, and dominate, a series of smaller tournaments organized by Bill Riordan, his manager and a promoter.
In 1974, Connors and Riordan began filing lawsuits, eventually amounting to $10 million, against the ATP and its president Arthur Ashe for allegedly restricting Connors's freedom in the game. It started when Connors was banned from the French Open in 1974 after he had signed a contract to play World Team Tennis (WTT) for Baltimore. The ATP and the French Tennis Federation opposed WTT because it conflicted with the French Open; therefore, all entries to the French Open from WTT players were refused.
The French Open was the only Grand Slam singles tournament that Connors did not win in 1974. He won the Australian Open, defeating Phil Dent in four sets in the final. Connors then beat Ken Rosewall in straight sets in the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open. His exclusion from the French Open possibly prevented him from becoming the first male player since Rod Laver to win all four Grand Slam singles titles in one year. Although he reached the semifinals four times, Connors never won the French Open, failing to achieve a Career Grand Slam.
Connors reached the World No. 1 ranking on July 29, 1974, and held it for 160 consecutive weeks, which was the record until Roger Federer beat it on February 26, 2007. Connors held the World No. 1 ranking for a total of 268 weeks during his career.
In 1975, Connors was the runner-up in the three Grand Slam singles tournaments he had won the year before. The 1975 Wimbledon final was a duel between lawsuit opponents, as Connors lost to Ashe in what most consider to have been a great upset. Shortly thereafter, Connors dropped the lawsuits and parted with Riordan.
In 1975, Connors won two highly-touted "Challenge Matches," both arranged by Riordan and televised nationally by CBS Sports from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first match, in February and billed as US$100,000 winner-takes-all, was against Rod Laver, fourteen years Connors's senior at age 36. Connors won that match 64, 62, 36, 75. In April, Connors played the man who had beaten him in the Australian Open final, John Newcombe, in a match billed as a U.S. $250,000 winner-takes-all. Connors won the match in four sets.
In 1976, Jimmy Connors played Björn Borg, the new Wimbledon champion, in the final of the US Open, which now was being played on clay. Connors saved four set points in a third-set tiebreak to beat the Swede 64, 36, 76(9), 64. Connors finished 1976 as the top ranked player for the third consecutive year.
In early 1977, Connors won his first World Championship Tennis (WCT) Finals, the championship tournament of the WCT tour.
Despite his success, Connors remained an independent character. At Wimbledon in 1977, he refused to participate in a parade of former champions to celebrate the tournament's centenary and was booed when he played in the final the following day. He lost in five sets to Borg, who a month later was able briefly to interrupt Connors's long hold on the World No. 1 ranking. Connors then lost in the final of the US Open to Guillermo Vilas.
Borg beat Connors comfortably in the 1978 Wimbledon final, but Connors defeated the Swede 64, 62, 62 in the final of the 1978 US Open, which was held for the first time at the Flushing Meadows venue.
Jimmy Connors lost his stranglehold on the top ranking to Borg in early 1979. He returned to the French Open in May, losing in a semifinal. He also lost in the semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open, repeating those results in 1980 and 1981. His best win during these years was in 1980, when he took his second WCT Finals by defeating the defending champion, John McEnroe.
In 1982, at age 30, Connors was back in the Wimbledon singles final, where he faced John McEnroe, who by then was established firmly as the world's top player. Connors recovered from being three points away from defeat in a fourth-set tie-break to win the match 36, 63, 67, 76, 64 and claim his second Wimbledon title, eight years after his first.
Connors then defeated another of the next generation of tennis stars, Ivan Lendl, in the US Open final and soon regained the World No. 1 ranking. He beat Lendl again in the 1983 US Open final.
Connors's last Grand Slam final came at Wimbledon in 1984, where again he faced McEnroe. This time, McEnroe won easily 61, 61, 62. Though beaten, Connors's competitive fire was undampened. Asked afterwards if he now admitted his rival was the better player, he simply replied, "Never."
A low point in Connors's career occurred on February 21, 1986, when he was defaulted in the fifth set of a semifinal match against Lendl at the Lipton International Players Championships in Boca Raton, Florida after being angered by the officiating. He paid a $20,000 fine and accepted a ten-week suspension from the professional tour, starting March 30. He was forced to miss the French Open, marking the first time that any player had missed a Grand Slam tournament due to suspension. He subsequently lost in the first round at Wimbledon and the third round at the US Open, a tournament where he had reached at least the semifinals for twelve consecutive years.
Jimmy Connors gradually transformed himself into a respected elder of the tennis world in the later years of his career. He continued to compete forcefully against much younger men until he was well into his 41st year. In the fourth round of the 1987 Wimbledon Championships, Connors defeated Mikael Pernfors, ten years his junior, 16, 16, 75, 64, 62 after having trailed 41 in the third set and 30 in the fourth set. In July 1988, Connors ended a four-year title drought by winning the Sovran Bank Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. It was the 106th title of his career. Connors had played in 56 tournaments and 12 finals since his previous victory in the Tokyo Indoors against Lendl in October 1984.
At the 1989 US Open, Connors defeated the third seed (and future two-time champion), Stefan Edberg, in straight sets in the fourth round and pushed sixth-seeded Andre Agassi to five sets in a quarterfinal. The defining moment of Connors's later career came in 1991. His career had seemed to be at an end in 1990, when he played only three tournament matches (and lost all three), dropping to No. 936 in the world rankings.
But after surgery on his deteriorating left wrist, he came back to play 14 tournaments in 1991. An ailing back forced him to retire from a five-sets match in the third round of the French Open against Michael Chang, the 1989 champion. But Connors made an improbable run to the US Open semifinals at the age of 39. On his birthday, he defeated 24-year-old Aaron Krickstein 36, 76(8), 16, 63, 76(4) in 4 hours and 41 minutes, coming back from a 25 deficit in the final set. Connors then was defeated in a semifinal by the reigning French Open champion, Jim Courier.
Connors won a record 109 men's singles titles.He also won 15 doubles titles (including the men's doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1973 and the US Open in 1975).
Connors played more tournaments (401) and won more matches (1,337) than any other male professional tennis player in the open era. His career win-loss record was 1,337-285 for a winning percentage of 82.4.
Connors was the only player to win the US Open on three different surfaces: grass, clay, and hard. Connors was also the first male tennis player to win Grand Slam singles titles on three different surfaces: grass (1974), clay (1976), and hard (1978).
Connors was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998.
Connors and Chris Evert had planned to marry in October 1973, but it was called off.
In 1980, Connors married Playboy model Patti McGuire. They have two children and live in the Santa Barbara, California area.