Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: The Outsider, A Memoir by Jimmy Connors

On the jacket:

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.


I have grown up watching Tennis championships, my oldest memory of any sport is of Tennis. My father was crazy about Tennis, my best friend has been and now, my husband is. So the most important sport in my life in front of the television, is also tennis. My life has been spent watching the biggest players play, hearing about them, reading and listening to discussions. 

Jimmy Connors, in addition of all this, was a childhood crush. So, when his autobiography came up, I grabbed it! If I had to sum the book in one word, it is honest as it seemed to me, considering he is famous for his big ego. Anecdotes and stories about the bigwigs of the tennis world are interesting, funny and at places, revealing. What I know about Connors is that people either adored him or absolutely hated him. If you are the latter, you might take the book as a highlight of all things wrong. Different perspectives, different reading experiences. 

The book is unapologetic. Like Connors. He has portrayed himself, as he is. So is the book. Editing leaves a bit to be desired. This memoir of the bad boy of tennis is definitely a good read!

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.] 

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