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on 18 July 2014
I've been a bit of a Jimmy Connors fan for years after watching re-runs of his matches on Wimbledon and seeing him interviewed a couple of times at Wimbledon, most notably the time before last I saw him at The Championships ('08 or '09) before making a surprise appearance this year and doing some commentary for BBC. When I found out he had released an autobiography last summer I knew that I had to get it. I have previously read John McEnroe's autobiography, which I really enjoyed and found insightful so I was hoping for the same from Jimmy.

I wasn't around when Jimmy was playing professionally and I got into tennis in '06 so my interest in McEnroe and Connors comes from footage of how they played and who they are now. I'm a big fan of current tennis but I think I find something exciting about the way it was back then and the personalities which is quite different from nowadays.

The book starts in an interesting time in his career in 1981 where he tells us people have been saying he's 'finished, washed up, done' and how he was determined to work his way back to the top and be better than anyone believed he could be. The story takes us through Jimmy's upbringing in East St Louis, Illinois and how his mum taught him to play alongside his grandmother nicknamed 'Two-mum', due to her being like a second mother to him. The struggles are discussed including a savage attack on public courts where his mother, gran and grandfather were brutally assaulted by two youths. His mother went on to be his manager through his professional career alongside coach Pancho Segura. Alongside word-class tennis was life off the court - partying with Ilie Nastasie (but always in moderation) - his close friend, an on-off relationship with Chris Evert, former Miss world Marjorie Wallace and his Wife - Playboy model Patti McGuire. Jimmy had problems with tennis federations and promoters, with lawsuits and with other players. Jimmy reflects on those issues with good humour as he did back then. Jimmy came to the fore when tennis was becoming popular with your average Joe and not just the Country club upper crust. It was a golden age for tennis and alongside McEnroe, Borg, Nastase Gerulaitis and Lendl; made the sport appealing for everyone. Jimmy pioneered the aluminium racket when the sport was transitioning from wooden racquets. He was the outsider and never really fit in with the clan of players that coalesced at the time.

Connors gives some interesting views throughout the book including his thoughts on today's tennis. Jimmy was a founder of the seniors tour and he tells us how he just didn't want to stop and had to keep going. He tells us he stills plays tennis every day even after 3 hip operations (he doesn't like the uneven number due to his OCD!). He discusses family life and even though there's been struggles how he's been married to the same woman for 35 years. Even in his later years Jimmy wasn't living it down quietly getting intro trouble with the Santa Barbara police department at a college football game with his son, for which he got arrested! The book ends with heartfelt acknowledgements to those who helped him through his life and tennis career.

I really enjoyed reading this book and in many parts it was more blunt and revealing than Johnny Mac's autobiography. Jimmy puts it all out there including an abortion that Chris Evert had against his wishes which the press had a field day with when the book was released and Evert didn't know he had included it. Jimmy approaches life with humour and honesty and that's what helps make this book so enjoyable that he tells it like it is and doesn't hold back. I would definitely recommend this for any tennis fan.
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2013
Jimmy Connors was one of the most compelling players of the open era of tennis, and when you watched him play you always knew he'd give it his all. I had high hopes of this book and although I enjoyed it I found it left me feeling sad. Connors has made a fortune and won the adulation of millions, but he is not a happy man. While he is clearly a good and loyal friend - he adores Ilie Nastase and the section on the great Vitas Gerulaitis, who died tragically young, is particularly touching - he also has an uncanny knack of falling out with everyone. Promoters, agents, former friends, umpires, even his own brother (whom he was involved in litigation with for over a decade)- all fall out of favour. As everyone knows by now, Chris Evert is portrayed in an unflattering light as a prissy control freak, and he seems to have a completely irrational hatred of Andre Agassi, because of some off-the-cuff remark Agassi made early on in his career.

There is a lot of score-settling in this book, and Connors still seems to be brimming with anger. There are also some great descriptions of matches, but you don't get much feel for what it was like being on the tour in those days - perhaps becasue Connors didn't really socialise with his peers. The real hero of this book is his wife Pattie, who seems to be little short of a saint. To do Connors credit, he clearly adores her and is ashamed of how badly he has behaved at times (having told her he no longer wanted to be married, he cut up her credit cards when she dared to consult a lawyer.)

This book isn't in the same league as Agassi's autobiography (which I highly recommend) or McEnroe's. I found it an interesting read, but it left me with the feeling that I wouldn't much like to spend time with Jimmy Connors.

Update on 24/7/13: Connors has recently been taken on by Maria Sharapova as a coach. Now that should be interesting ....

Further update on 22/3/13: That didn't last long - Sharapova sacked Connors after one match. Perhaps there will be a chapter on this in the paperback version?
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on 9 June 2013
The most important and significant tennis player of the open era finally opens up about his life and times being the world number one tennis player of the 70's. Sometimes angry, other times moving he gives allot of insight into what drove him and even distracted him in his quest to be the best and most exciting tennis player of his era and perhaps all time. However, there are moments where he leaves the finer details to your imagination hence my 4 out of 5 stars.
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on 5 January 2014
Really enjoyed this and I read lots of autobiographies, especially sports. I gave this 5 stars because you get exactly what you would expect from Jimmy Connors- totally engaging and fast paced coverage of the most exciting era in tennis from arguably the most influential individual the game has seen. I would recommend this to any sports fan, certainly any tennis fan. I would guess that if you did not like Connors this book is unlikely to change your view of him. Uncompromising would be a good description of him and his book. If you remember the reason tennis was so great in those years - you did not simply watch and admire the skills as you do now, you were completely drawn into the drama and the characters involved - you will love it.
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on 26 August 2015
This is an OK book if you're a tennis fan of a certain age. I read it mostly because I had a crush on the peerless Chris Evert and wanted to hear about Connors' relationship with her, but Connors doesn't really do "insight" on the human level.

Connors is comfortable in his own skin, and he can be admired for that as well as for his brilliant tennis career. But don't expect to learn much from him, as it seems like he has nothing to give other than to himself.

For insight, warmth and a thoroughly good read, buy Agassi's book instead. Or as well, so that you have the two extremes of tennis autobiographies to compare and contrast.
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on 16 June 2013
This book would put you off being a top tennis player. Jimmy Connors clearly had many great times in his career but the downside is huge. All that bouncing of the ball before serving was part of his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He was also a gambler who just about managed to stay out of big trouble - but had scrapes like losing $60,000 in four hours in Caesars Palace and having to win the tournament he was in to pay the debt. He was addicted to tennis as well - as you would need to be at that level. One could ask if most top sports players are slightly crazed after reading this - Nastase with his addiction to women, Borg who gave in to some of his demons after he retired at age 26 from tennis and the late cocaine-taking Vitas Gerulaitis. It is a good, highly readable book, though. And Connors and co had great fun along the way. Chris Evert will not be dancing with joy at the descriptions of her. But one of the most touching elements of the book is about Connors' great admiration of women. It is very encouraging that such a masculine man should love and admire his mother and grand-mother so much. They were his first trainers. Fans of Jimbo will generally like this book - as he comes across just as he seemed on the court. He is cheeky, a rough diamond, a fighter to the end, an adventurer and someone who could look honestly at himself, his faults on the court and off. Despite the warts and all self-portrait, I admire him just as much as I did back then.
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Although we have at last got a British champion this for me isn't a golden era in the men's singles at Wimbledon. I've only got a passing interest in tennis now, finding it a little dull and the players themselves even duller, but for a time back in the seventies and eighties tennis was compelling viewing. The reason for this is that men's tennis in this period featured some larger than life characters, players whose brilliance allied to their sheer unpredictability made you want to watch their matches because you didn't want to risk missing some breathtaking tennis or more likelier, the latest example of their outrageous behaviour. At the forefront of these players was the nice but nasty Romanian Illie Nastase, the argumentative Irish American John McEnroe and the author of this autobiography - the loud-mouthed maverick, Jimmy Connors.

As a player Connors was very abrasive, never holding back from arguing his corner if he thought that a line call had wrongly gone against him; in fact he courted confrontation and seemed to take pleasure in winding up both his opponent and the umpire. Although long retired, his autobiography reveals he hasn't changed, as it is written in the same aggressive, uncompromising style that he displayed as a player. Although this has caused some previous reviewers to brand him as being unpleasant I cannot agree because I believe he deserves credit for being scathingly honest - he his extremely self critical - which makes this book an engrossing read. It is clear that he can be a difficult person and admits to having lost a lot of money through gambling, drinking too much alcohol and cheating on his wife Patti, but the fact that he is still married to her after 34 years, suggests that either she is a saint or could it be that maybe he isn't quite as difficult as he would imagine?

Although the emphasis is very much on his tennis career and his triumphs and defeats receive full coverage, this book is at its best away from the tennis court. It is particularly revealing to read about the massive, and at times almost overwhelming, influence that his mother and grandmother had on his career, and the death of Connors friend, Vitus Gerulaitis, a fellow tennis pro who lived the playboy life but was blighted by an addiction to drugs.

Whilst it does run out of steam at times, this is still a sporting autobiography of the highest calibre.
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on 14 July 2013
I am Lesley Taylor and I live on the east side of Southampton, England and Jimmy Connors has always been my No. 1 tennis idol! We were both born in 1952 but sadly that is the only thing we have in common - with perhaps the exception of our love of tennis! I was delighted to discover that he has written his autobiography "The Outsider", which I was able to obtain from Amazon for a very competitive price. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. His written work was as compelling as his physical presence on the court, along with his completely unique style of tennis. The insight the book has given me into his life, from when he was little until the present day, has only served to heighten my total respect and admiration of the man, his tennis, and his "what you see is what you get" attitude to everything and everyone! It was fascinating to read about his relationship with so many other tennis players I remember from when I was a little girl. I used to watch Wimbledon with my dad and my brother on our little black and white television from a very young age so when Jimmy hit the circuit, I was well prepared and well versed in the sport! I found the book a little disjointed at times and had to "back-track" once or twice to remind me where he was at, but that did not detract from my total absorption and enjoyment of the book. Even though Jimmy was a naughty boy on occasions (we knew this about him anyway!) it didn't put me off at all and I am just so happy to have had the opportunity to get to know and understand him better. Thank you Jimmy for bringing me so much pleasure and enjoyment over the decades! You have always been (and will always be) my tennis hero! I wish you and your family much happiness and contentment in the coming years.
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on 25 December 2014
I picked this up for 50p at my local library, not 3 miles from Wimbledon. I'm guessing it hadn't been flying off the shelf. And that's a real shame.
I grew up watching Jimmy Connors play, and although I was never going to be able to emulate his swagger, I have played against many who did. And I lost to almost all of them. He changed the way people played and as watched the game more than anyone else I have seen or studied. And while this book is not always pretty -- it's raw in many parts -- you cannot come away from it without liking Jimmy. And I promise he makes no effort in these pages to be liked.
Even for those with only a passing interest in tennis, but interested in sport and social history, this is great. Jimmy is great at questioning the orthodoxy without being disrespectful. And that's not easy. Just one example is how he writes about being a kid from East St Louis and coming to the UK and France. He won over the crowds in both places, but did so on his terms.
Where the book is probably most affecting though is when he talks about his friends and contemporaries. He's blunt, but not ever trite or really judgmental -- he's probably got no reason to be. But he can therefore paint a clearer picture of who they are. The result is probably a clearer understanding of people like Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe than you would get elsewhere.
Go down to your local library and take this one out.
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on 16 June 2013
Fabulous book never new all that about his childhood ! Always been a massive fan back in his heyday ! Just goes to prove what hard work and determination can do. !
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