Such peril dogged Jimmy Connors’ reputation in recent decades. The overplayed 1991 U.S. Open highlights kept showing a gutsy semifinalist (then age 39), and the 21st century ran the risk of identifying him more for his admirable will than for being a jerk.
Luckily for posterity, Connors has birthed a book to remind everyone of his foremost aspect, his longstanding identity as a jerk.
It’s such relief. The world fumbles around for accuracy enough as it is.
By hinting at the deeply personal matters of his long-ago fiancée Chris Evert without her consent, Connors has helped to re-calibrate an image that may have drifted toward a false positive. He has saved people time. No longer must people explain his vileness toward linespeople and others, or how he once hit tennis balls at a grandmother calling lines at an exhibition in Florida, or how he exemplified an era of American tennis so creepy that he could look vaguely human only when a louder jerk (John McEnroe) came along.
No longer must anyone bother much with the question of whether Connors paraded through Wimbledon with showy new girlfriends in the mid-1970s partly to taunt Evert. Instead, we have ironclad solidification of another mid-1970s occasion, for we know again that Arthur Ashe’s upset of Connors in the 1975 Wimbledon final represented one of sports’ best-ever cases of goodness besting jerkiness.
People can watch again those selective 1991 U.S. Open highlights, and even with the omissions of Connors calling an umpire “an abortion” and so on, people can just go, Who cares? What a jerk.