After winning NCAA singles title as a student at UCLA in 1971, Jimmy Connors left school to turn professional in 1972. He won the U. S. pro championship the following year.
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A left-hander who uses the two-handed backhand, Jimmy Connors was deprived of a shot at the grand slam in 1974. He won the Australian and U. S. Opens and the Wimbledon singles championship, but was banned from the French Open because he played in the World Team Tennis league. He won the U. S. Open again in 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1983, and he took his second Wimbledon title in 1982.
One of his opponents said of Connors, "Playing him is like fighting Joe Frazier. The guy's always coming at you. He never lets up."
During the early part of his career, his personality matched his style of play. Connors had frequent clashes with judges and umpires, the players' union, Davis Cup officials, and other players.
Later, he became mellower. After his first Wimbledon victory, he declined to accept the commemorative medal emblematic of the championship. After his second, eight years later, he accepted it graciously and won over many British fans who had previously disliked him.
Ranked first in the world five years in a row, from 1974 through 1978, Connors had to yield that position to Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and Ivan Lendl for the rest of his career. Yet he gained popularity with American crowds. It reached a peak in 1989, when he played in his twentieth U. S. Open at the age of thirty-seven. Connors ignited the crowd with a fourth-round upset of Stefan Edberg before losing in the quarter-finals.
Jimmy Connors is the all-time leader with 109 tournament victories and he ranks fifteenth in money won with $8,641,040.
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