“You can get away with anything if you win.”

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The Connors voice in this 401-page account can be brash and defiant, far different in tone and temperament from most traditional sports memoirs. But Connors is not Andre Agassi trying to chronicle a transformation; Connors even rifles a few crisp crosscourt passing shots at Agassi, whose 2009 confessional was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Agassi, Connors writes, “was never my kind of guy,” labeling his substance-over-style turnabout “nothing but an act.”

That Connors now feels secure enough to tell us why he bounced balls so obsessively at the service line, repeatedly locked and unlocks doors and could not manage his mother’s difficulties accepting his wife until well into their marriage is worthy background. Whether he would have ventured down such a personal memory lane if his mother were alive is a more sensitive question.

Tennis prodigies often share the benefits and burdens of parents who push and prod them, sometimes to excess, in pursuit of greatness. Gloria Connors, who died in 2007, went beyond teaching her son the importance of preparation and footwork. She was involved in every aspect of his life, “and she paid the price for treading into that traditionally male-dominated territory by having some pretty aggressive criticism thrown at her by the tennis establishment and media,” Connors writes.

Acknowledging that he would sometimes yell at his mother to “get out of my life” for interfering in his “extracurricular” affairs, Connors still defends her, a sentimental thread that enlivens his mundane recitations of tournaments, his lawsuits and his recurring rejection of other authority figures.

Read the full article from the NYTimes here.

 

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