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Jimmy Connors Saved My Life: A Personal Biography Hardcover – July 13, 2004

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Jimmy Connors is seldom considered when one discusses the best tennis players ever. Nevertheless, he was the most successful, with an all-time best 109 tournament victories through the 1970s and 1980s. Drucker, a respected tennis journalist, has produced a carefully researched, admiring account of Connors' blue-collar rise through the tennis ranks as shepherded by Gloria, the ultimate tennis mom. Mother and son pushed their way into the aristocratic tennis oligarchy with determination and hard work. Drucker also conveys his emotional connection to Connors at the various points at which the journalist's and star athlete's careers intersected. Connors wasn't always nice, had a temper, and projected a mild paranoia. The chip on his shoulder that carried him out of Belleville, Illinois, and to a number-one world ranking also antagonized the press, his opponents, and the tennis establishment. But it was Connors' determination that inspired Drucker to pursue his career, hence the book's title. Readers will get twice what they expect here: this is not one story but two, and both make compelling reading. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"...rarely has anyone gotten this close a look at Connors' mental and emotional inner sanctum." -- Charles Brinker in South Florida Sun-Sentinel on December 5, 2004

"ACE TENNIS BOOK OF THE YEAR...This long-overdue biography makes compelling reading." -- Editors of ACE Magazine in ACE Magazine (UK) on December 2004

"This is the first serious and comprehensive look at the fiery Connors and the tennis revolution he led ..." -- Marcos Breton in Sacramento Bee on October 31, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sport Media Publishing (July 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0973144386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0973144383
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,754,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Annicka on June 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this book with great interest, as I befriended Jimmy Connors at the local tennis courts in several years ago, shortly before this book came out, and got a chance to talk to him on an almost daily basis about a variety of subjects while practicing strokes against the tennis wall. He was quite humble and that does not quite match the nature of the narcissist described by the author in this book. This book is very well-written and researched, but during the couple of years I knew Connors, I found him to be quite self-effacing when it came to his immensely successful career and persona. He looked back on it like it was a fun and exciting time then, but had clearly moved on and was trying to find a new purpose in his life. He did not appear unhappy, as indicated, just somewhat bored and always coming up with new ideas of what he wanted to do next with his life. He really wanted to do something meaningful for ordinary people who enjoyed playing tennis, but also still clearly enjoys being in the company of top players, as is evident from his coaching of Andy Roddick. He appeared anything but selfish, as he volunteered for the homeless and clearly cares a lot about animals.
I observed that Jimmy was in a lot of pain sometimes, but he never once complained. In spite of his pain, Jimmy kept coming back to practice his play against two of the best local tennis players (a couple), and from what I observed, he bonded the most with the female, older player, a seasoned tennis pro. Jimmy, by himself on one side of the court, managed to wear out these other two players on the other side completely, which was quite amazing. After all, he was in his early 50s and in pain. While on the courts playing, I did notice, like the author, that he changed into a different persona.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joel Drucker does a great job fulfilling his desire to write a biography about the elusive Jimmy Connors. Like Connors, Drucker grew up in St. Louis and later Los Angeles with an interest in tennis that later allowed him to cross paths with Jimmy Connors, his tennis hero. But it was not always that way as Drucker chronicles his love for the stated elegance of the game and his dissatisfaction with the new "ugly" heroes, Connors, Nastase and McEnroe.

Slowly the Connors mystique captures Drucker and he elegantly writes of his love of tennis while at the same time discussing the struggles of his older brother who suffers from mental illness. The overlay of his personal story only takes about 1/4 of the book with the remainder covering Connors who is a unique human being blessed to be fueled by the overwhelming desire to compete against the world. But this competitive fire has its downside as Connors never really lets anyone close and competes on the tour as a loner while most other competitors socialize and enjoy each other's company.

So with this background, Drucker reconstructs the meteoric rise of Connors' career through his eventual drop below Borg and McEnroe while he leaves his high school tennis career, attends Cal Berkeley and starts a failed career as a tennis journalist. From here he's able to spend time with Connors and get drawn in to the very small inner circle. Drucker floats the idea of a biography which Connors always seems interested in but in the end, Connors remains the loner who is, not letting anyone get close enough to really know him. Connors is a warrior. He has the heart of a lion even though his ability to interact with other humans may not be as advanced as most people would like.

Overall, this is an enlightening, well-written book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Segan on August 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Joel Drucker shows that there is more to tennis than just hitting fuzzy balls over the net. His unauthorized biography of Jimmy Connors, based on much painstaking research and numerous personal interviews with Connors, paints a picture of a great athlete, but one who is both inspiring and disturbing at the same time. Drucker intertwines his own personal story with the career of Connors, and both make for fascinating reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in sports and life in general.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Henderson on April 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Joel Drucker is an indefatigable researcher and an insightful writer. Though tennis writers tend to be at the bottom of the food chain when measured against golf, boxing and baseball writers, Drucker does his profession proud. The biographical information about Connors, based upon meticulous research, is at times, outstanding. He paints a portrait of the tennis great that few have ever seen. Drucker explores Connors' relationship with his mother Gloria and grandmother Bertha in-depth. Indeed, knowing his relationship to them is the foundation of not only his tennis career but also his life.
My main problem with the book is that Drucker was never the insider he portrays himself to have been with Connors. Perhaps, his infatuation with the charismatic "Jimbo" led him to conjure up a make-believe inner circle relationship where none existed. I can stomach this because I do not believe Drucker believes otherwise. I truly think that he viscerally believes he was thisclose to Connors. But he wasn't. To me, this calls into question other assertions and conclusions he made and arrived at. I've examined them thoroughly and have no problem with their efficacy.
Simply put, this is a book that Drucker had to write. Undoubtedly it served as a catharsis, ridding his soul of haunting demons that needed exorcising. As he describes his relationship with his brother, its like hearing chalk screech on the blackboard. Yet, it had to be written.
For the diehard Connors fans, this is a must book. For those who loved tennis in its heyday, you won't find a more compelling book. Most of the other tennis books on the personalities from this period were written, or so they read, solely to capitalize on the subject matter and to make a dollar. This book was written from a soul that is, at times, tormented, yet remains sincere. The result is a one-of-a-kind book that does justice to Connors, tennis and the writer.
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