McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl and others eventually caught up to Connors and he became just a part of a talented group of top players. He won four more U.S. Open titles and captured a second Wimbledon title eight years after his first. Despite an injury-plagued decade in the 1980s he made a stirring run to the semi-finals of the U.S. Open in 1991 just as he turned 39.
But winning and being No. 1 were just part of Connors’ legacy. He also had more “incidents” on court than any player in history. He once called an umpire an “abortion.” He once raced to the other side of the court to erase the mark of a ball that was called good but might have been out. He loved to trash talk with opponents, especially McEnroe, and, by his own estimation, was hated by about 99 percent of the media.
On the plus side, you could not find a better competitor. He simply never gave up. In that memorable 1991 U.S. Open he came back from two-sets, 3-0 down to beat a player 14 years his junior (Patrick McEnroe) in five sets in the opening round.
Connors is the only player I ever saw who had the ability to break concentration between points. He could banter with the crowd and then be locked in once the next ball was in play. Most players are steel-faced and tortured while playing. Connors thoroughly enjoyed himself on the court. He didn’t care if you rooted for or against him just so long as you were there.
Connors has just written his memoir not surprisingly called “The Outsider.” It is an honest and straightforward autobiography, exactly what you would expect from him. If you thought he was an obnoxious jerk before reading the book you’ll still think he’s an obnoxious jerk after finishing it. The only difference is that you will realize he wears the moniker as a badge of honor. He is who he is.