Tennis

Former Tennis Star Jimmy Connors Blamed an Abortion on Ruining His Nearly Perfect 1974 Season

While tennis star Jimmy Connors won eight majors, his tantrums and rude behavior were nearly expected. So it shouldn’t have been shocking when Connors sunk to a new level in his 2013 autobiography, The Outsider. In it, the tennis star mentions an abortion his former fiancé and fellow tennis star Chris Evert had, which he didn’t support. Connors admits that the abortion wreaked havoc on his 1974 tennis season. Here are the details.

Jimmy Connors’ tennis career

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Connors had a prolific tennis career. In addition to his eight Grand Slam titles, he holds the records for reaching the most quarterfinals in the majors and winning the most career titles. He was a powerhouse in the ’70s and ’80s and developed intense rivalries with opponents Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. McEnroe was never shy about his dislike for Connors, even comparing him to the infamous Pete Rose. He claimed they had the same haircuts, and both played with a big chip on their shoulders.

But to Connors, that chip on his shoulder and his tantrums on the court were all part of the show. He was the first tennis player to look at the court as a stage; he was not only an athlete but an entertainer. And while he’s well known for his two-handed backhand, he’s just as famous for involving and winning over crowds.

That was never more apparent than in the 1991 U.S. Open. Connors was 39 years old and at the end of his career, but that didn’t stop him from making a nearly impossible run all the way to the semifinals. He lit up the crowd and worked them into a frenzy time and time again.

Connors spills the beans in his autobiography

In the ’70s, Connors and fiancé, Chris Evert, were tennis’s royal couple. They were young, talented, and beautiful. Set to marry in the mid-’70s, the wedding was suddenly called off with no explanation. The answer as to what caused the break-up came nearly 40 years later when Connors released his autobiography. 

The National Post adds that when Evert got pregnant, Connors was ready to take responsibility. Evert had other ideas. In his book, Connors claims that Evert decided to take care of “the issue” without his input. Looking back, Connors concedes that the relationship probably wouldn’t have lasted. He added, “It kept going back to the same old question: Can two number ones exist in the same family?”

The end of a perfect season

Tennis players and couple Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in 1974
Tennis players Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in 1974 | Paul DeMaria/NY Daily News via Getty Images

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The Daily Beast reports that when Connors heard of Evert’s abortion and ended the relationship, he drowned his sorrows. This meant staying out all night and partying. Connors claims all of his late-night antics caused him to lose the next tournament. That Grand Slam loss put a damper on his otherwise stellar 1974 season. 

Connors and Evert briefly reconciled in both 1976 and 1978. But their romance was cut short when Connors married Playboy model Patti McGuire in 1979. Evert quickly responded to Connors’s allegation with a statement to Reuters:

“In his book, Jimmy Connors has written about a time in our relationship that was very personal and emotionally painful. I am extremely disappointed that he used the book to misrepresent a private matter that took place 40 years ago and made it public, without my knowledge. I hope everyone can understand that I have no further comment.”