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Jimmy Connors

Age-defying Comebacks

After suffering a drought at the Grand Slams for a few years after he was married, Connors rededicated himself to tennis in the early 1980s. In 1982 he won Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and on the hard courts of the US. Open. He repeated his U.S. Open victory again in 1983, which was his 100th tournament title. In both U.S. Open finals Connors defeated Ivan Lendle. "It wasn't quite as beautiful as some other finals I have played," Connors told Ross Atkin of the Christian Science Monitor in September of 1983. "And maybe wasn't the best match to look at, but it got the job done."

Awards and Accomplishments

1971 National Intercollegiate singles title
1971 Named All American
1973 Wimbledon doubles champion with Ilie Nastase
1973 U.S. Pro Championship singles champion
1973-75, 1978-79, 1983-84 U.S. Indoor Open singles champion
1974 Australian Open singles champion
1974 U.S. Indoor Open doubles champion with Frew McMillan
1974 U.S. Clay Court doubles champion with Ilie Nastase
1974 Named Player of the Year
1974, 1976, 1978-79 U.S. Clay Court singles champion
1974, 1976, 1978, 1982-83 U.S. Open singles champion
1974, 1982 Wimbledon singles champion
1975 U.S. Open doubles champion with Ilie Nastase
1975 U.S. Indoor Open doubles champion with Ilie Nastase
1976 Ranked number one tennis player in U.S. and world
1976 Cologne Cup
1976, 1978-80 Pro Indoor singles champion
1976, 1981 Davis Cup Team
1976, 1985 World Cup Team
1977 World Championship Tennis singles
1978 Ranked number one tennis player in world
1991 Reached U.S. Open semifinals at age 39
1991 Included in 25 Most Intriguing People by People magazine
1998 Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame
2001 Inducted into St. Louis Walk of Fame

Connors continued to play tennis for the next decade, even though most of his peers were retiring. Although it was difficult for Connors to beat the younger generations of tennis greats, he still enjoyed the game. At age thirty-nine he began another tennis comeback after recovering from wrist surgery. In 1991 he returned to the French Open, the only Grand Slam title he had not won. In a thrilling third-round match Connors almost beat American teenage sensation Michael Chang. After three and a half hours of play Connors was physically unable

Jimmy Connors

to continue playing and he had to forfeit the match in the fifth set.

Connors' most remarkable performance came during the 1991 U.S. Open, his favorite competition. Connors was ranked 174th in the world and received a wildcard entry for the tournament. He defeated Patrick McEnroe, Aaron Krickstein, and Paul Haarhuis. The four and a half hour match against Krickstein fell on Connors' 39th birthday. Before Haarhuis' match against Connors, Tom Callahan of U.S. News and World Report quoted Haarhuis as saying, "My strategy, I guess, is to tire Connors out. He's a great player, and nobody will ever do what he's done. But, after all, he is 39 years old." The strategy was unsuccessful and Connors beat the 25-year-old Haarhuis in the quarterfinals. However, Connors was finally stopped in the semifinals by fellow American Jim Courier. Connors referred to his 1991 comeback as "the summer of all summers." "You dream of putting together a streak like that," Connors told People in December of 1991.

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