Jimmy Connors - The Hellion of Tennis
The best show in men's tennis in recent weeks opened beside the pool at the exclusive Beverly Hills Tennis Club. The world's No. 1 player was nursing a sprained ankle, but the injury did not stop him from uninhibitedly demonstrating a self-choreographed twist-and-shake step he calls "Soul Train." Nor did the sedate surroundings squelch his urge to sing a few bars from the rock song Philadelphia Freedom in an uncertain tenor or to entertain the club's teenagers with raunchy jokes. James Scott Connors, 22 going on 19, was taking his own kind of time-out from training for this Saturday's televised million-dollar match with the world's No. 2 player, Australian John Newcombe.
From Beverly Hills he flew off to Las Vegas for a day to consult with Songwriter-Singer Paul Anka, who has confected a ditty called I Believe There's Nothing Stronger Than Our Love, about Jimmy Connors' revived romance with the First Lady of Tennis, Chris Evert, 20. Connors, who has never sung professionally, will record the song himself. After meeting with Anka, Connors hopped back to Los Angeles to greet Evert, who had just jetted in from Philadelphia for a tournament.
The reunion was going fine until Connors had a sudden onset of chest pains and thought he had suffered a heart attack. Jimmy checked into Marina Mercy Hospital in Marina del Ray, arriving in a disguise to avoid autograph hunters. Some Washington, D.C., tennis fans who were expecting to see him play in a tournament there charged that he was faking. After all, Connors had pulled out of other tournaments this year with vague ills. Jimmy did not end the skepticism when he passed the time waiting for test results (which proved negative) by practicing tennis and repeatedly pratfalling as he clutched his chest and screamed, "Oh, my heart, my heart!"
Connors saved his lowest comedy for last. On a rainy afternoon at an old Hollywood sound stage turned indoor court, the 1974 Wimbledon and Forest Hills champion missed a shot during practice and unabashedly yanked down the seat of his pants before half a dozen wide-eyed watchers. » ... more
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