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The Outsider: A Memoir Hardcover – May 14, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061242993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061242991
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An engrossing five-setter, with intense exchanges and no tiebreakers... Like the individualists Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Pete Rose and Chuck Berry, Connors was authentic. The book reflects that swagger." New York Times "Eye-poppingly indiscreet: The Outsider makes most sports autobiographies feel like very tepid affairs in comparison." Daily Mail "Exhilarating... served up at full pelt, as if Connors were charging at readers with his double-handed backhand, complete with sweaty grunts." Mail on Sunday "As spiky and uncompromising as you would hope... candid and funny." -- Marcus Berkmann Daily Mail, Sports Books of the Year "Kudos to Jimmy Connors for valiantly trying to argue in his autobiography, The Outsider, that the current spectacle of Roger Federer, Djokovic and Nadal - whose courtesy and dignity generally match the superlative quality of their play - has nothing on his own era of incontinent litigiousness, oncourt swearing, childish tantrums, umpire abuse, celebratory crotch-grabbing and mutual hatred between top players. Connors' book has the ring of honesty... a magnificent snapshot of his era." -- Ed Smith New Statesman --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Jimmy Connors is a working-man's hero, a people's champion who could tear the cover off a tennis ball, just as he tore the cover off the country-club gentility of his sport. A renegade from the wrong side of the tracks, Connors broke the rules with a radically aggressive style of play and bad-boy antics that turned his matches into prizefights. In 1974 alone, he won 95 out of 99 matches, all of them while wearing the same white shorts he washed in the sink of his hotel bathrooms. Though he lived the rock star life away from tennis, his enduring dedication to his craft earned him eight Grand Slam singles titles and kept him among the top ten best players in the world for sixteen straight years—five at number one.

In The Outsider, Connors tells the complete, uncensored story of his life and career, setting the record straight about his formidable mother, Gloria; his very public romance with America's sweetheart Chris Evert; his famous opponents, including Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Arthur Ashe, Ivan Lendl, and Rod Laver; his irrepressible co-conspirators Ilie Nastase and Vitas Gerulaitis; and his young nemesis Andre Agassi. Connors reveals how his issues with obsessive-compulsive disorder, dyslexia, gambling, and women at various times threatened to derail his career and his long-lasting marriage to Playboy Playmate Patti McGuire.

Presiding over an era that saw tennis attract a new breed of passionate fans—from cops to tycoons—Connors transformed the game forever with his two-handed backhand, his two-fisted lifestyle, and his epic rivalries.

The Outsider is a grand slam of a memoir written by a man once again at the top of his game—as feisty, unvarnished, and defiant as ever.


More About the Author

Jimmy Connors won a record 109 men's singles titles (and fifteen doubles titles) from 1972 to 1989. He was ranked the world's number-one player for five consecutive years and won a total of ten Grand Slams. In 1998 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and he is arguably one of the top tennis players of all time. Originally from East St. Louis, he lives in Santa Barbara, California, with his family.

Customer Reviews

I wanted to like this more, but just didn't happen.
Bret Scott
I am a huge tennis fan, and always enjoyed watching Jimmy Connors compete.
Sharon A Byron
The book is well written, straightforward, and mature.
Reuel A. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By D. Graves TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is more than you might expect. It's not a "how great I was" autobiography nor a "tell-all" book filled with shocking stories of the sordid events in a famous tennis star's life; it is perhaps a bit of both of those to some degree but generally it's a real story of a real outsider who conquered the tennis world. Not that Connors is always straight-forward and endearing as he tells his story: he has many axes to grind (with fellow tennis stars and others) and tends to put himself in the most favorable light of most contentious events he was a part of, but, in general, he seems quite honest about his life and mistakes and is not unduly proud of his accomplishments. He's a likeable guy.

Jimmy Connors did come from humble roots in East St. Louis, Illinois, coached by his mother to be good enough at 16 for him to venture out to California at that age - alone - to receive professional coaching. The fact that his mother remained an important force in his tennis career caused many in pro tennis circles (including tennis media people) to deem Connors as a 'momma's boy' and to be highly critical of his mother. We get at the heart of Connors as he writes of the importance of his mother in his life and his anger at how she was treated:

"Why was it OK for Joe Montana's dad to teach his son football or Wayne Gretzky's dad to teach him hockey but it wasn't OK for Gloria Connors to teach her son tennis?"

Indeed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This memoir blindsided me, far more open and revealing a book than I expected from Jimmy Connors, someone who by his own admission tends to be wary of people and not given to personal revelations. Yet somehow he manages to be surprisingly open in The Outsider, all without softening his edgy personality or blunt take on life.

It was fascinating to read of the journey Connors took to move "tennis from those gated country clubs to the streets." This struggle was part of what made him an outsider (his temperament was another part of that), unwilling to accept the status quo. He wanted to reach out to the average person and change the image of tennis. He was willing to buck the system even if he offended the "old-school fans" who perceived him as "a crude upstart trampling their precious traditions."

The Outsider deftly straddles a fine line, balancing personal information (a romance with Chris Evert, tensions with John McEnroe, a crisis in his marriage) with details about tennis history, technique, and pivotal championships. Although he wasn't above seeking revenge, there were sections in the book when Connors gave credit to players who disliked him. He even calls Arthur Ashe's win over him at Wimbledon in 1975 "flawless". Although Connors went into that game injured, with hairline fractures in a shin, he doesn't use that as an excuse for his loss.

Even in the first few chapters, it becomes clear that Connors overcame plenty to become a tennis champion. But he also had some incredible role models. One of those was his mother. When he was only 8 years old he saw her get punched in the mouth by a couple of thugs at a public tennis court. Even though she was injured so badly she lost her teeth, she still got up and practiced tennis with her two sons the next morning.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By W. Zollo VINE VOICE on May 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book will speak to you, I believe most especially to those who vividly recall the fraternity of Connors, Nastase,
Lendl, Borg and Johnny Mac amongst others in the 70s and 80s, the era of the bad boys with talent and big personalities to back the glib verbosity that made them captivating stars.

This is not a tell all. This is not artfully written. At times he cuts the telling of a tale to a paragraph whilst waxing about the origins of his footwork, topspin, backhand to the tenth degree; in here lies the beauty of THE OUTSIDER -- this is Jimmy Connors spinning the narrative central to his being, it's all about tennis and its always, always been about tennis.

His love for the game and his determination to be the best radiates with honesty in pure Connors directness.

There are some classic stories, pure gems about friendships, foolishness, romance, and recklessness and lessons learned.
Tales from his life which he has the right to portion out as he sees fit (which he does and right now I'm referring to Chris Evert--his one time sweetheart, but certainly no sweetheart) and again, doled out with truth and just enough information held back to maintain respect.

Evert, is old news the other relationships are far more wooly, fun and eye-opening. His wife Patti is his backbone, his children are a revelation to him, the complex relationship with his mother Gloria is explained and defined. what a woman!

But in the end this autobiography is Jimmy Connors telling the world how much he loved the game, explaining his issues but being true to himself.

I miss the bad boy(s) of tennis. Connors was talented, worked hard, showed his emotions, played to the crowd.
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