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Jimmy Connors

Organized Champions Tour

While Connors never officially retired from tennis, he did not play full time after 1992. Injuries and age forced Connors to pursue other interests, although he never lost his passion for tennis. In 1995 he played in two ATP tournaments, and he even reached the quarterfinals finals in Halle, Germany. Most of the tennis Connors played in the 1990s was on the Champions Tour, the over-35 male tennis tour that he started in 1993. Connors was not only the co-founder with Ray Benton and president of the tour, but he was also often the champion. Although he recruited other top players, such as McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas, and Roscoe Tanner to participate, Connors dominated the tour during the early years so much that the press dubbed it the "Connors Tour."

Vanity may have played a role in Connors' motivation to organize the seniors' tour, as did his love for the game. Connors also saw the tour as a vehicle to promote tennis in general, much like the Senior PGA tour for golf. "I wanted tennis to be a sport where everybody could enjoy it … yell and scream and root and cheer and boo like they do at baseball games, football games, basketball games and hockey games," Connors told David Elfin of the Washington Times in May of 1996. The tour started with only three tournaments, but grew to over twenty tournaments in eleven countries by 2001.

In the late 1990s Connors suffered from some injuries, including torn stomach muscles, which hampered his play. McEnroe took over as the leader on the seniors' tour, although Connors continued to play some tournaments. In 2001 at the age of 49, he finished 15th in the Tour of Champions standings.

Where Is He Now?

Although Connors stopped playing the professional tennis circuit full time after his 1991 comeback at the U.S. Open, he never stopped playing tennis. Connors still competed sporadically on the ATP tour until about 1996. In 1993 he organized the Champions Tour for men over thirty-five years old and he dominated that circuit for several years. In 2001 he was still ranked in the top twenty of the seniors' tour. Connors still participates in exhibition games, often playing his long-time rival John McEnroe. Connors also started playing golf. In 1994 he participated in the AT&T National Pro-Am golf tournament. Connors has developed other business interests outside of sports. Connors and his brother Johnny invested in a riverboat gambling operation in St. Louis in the early 1990s. In 1992 he co-authored a book called Don't Count Yourself Out! Staying Fit After 35. He also became a spokesperson for several products, such as Liberto denim, Reebok Hard Court shoes, and, more recently, Homedics Thera P Magnetic Wave products for pain relief.

Connors, a brash young American tennis star, who learned the game on public courts, took the elitist, country-club world of tennis by storm with his talent and his emotions. The lefty was known for his two-handed backhand and killer return-of-serve, as well as for his emotional outbursts and arguments with the umpires. Connors won eight Grand Slam titles, including five U.S. Open championships. He has played in more tournaments, won more finals, and won more matches than any other male professional tennis player. His legacy was summed up best by BBC Sports in 2001: "'Jimbo' may have lacked the supreme natural talent of John McEnroe or Rod Laver, but there was one area where Connors was streets ahead of the rest—his competitiveness."

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