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Leaves a sour taste
on 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?