Today - Season 2013

TODAY   |  May 10, 2013

Jimmy Connors talks Chris Evert, OCD struggles

Tennis legend Jimmy Connors had no shortage of accomplishments on the court, but his life off the court has attracted just as much attention. He talks about his candid new memoir, “The Outsider.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> you.

>> you were the real original bad boy of tennis. jimmy connors writing a memoir, why did you decide to write a book?

>> i've been asked for a long time to write one and finally had the time. last year i had a couple hip replacements, kind of put me down and i had the time and found a writer that was able to kind of get what i had to say and put it down on paper the way i said it.

>> i think the "new york times" calls it engrossing five-center enclave with intensive exchanges and no tie-breakers. what was your purpose? did you want to settle scores in some cases? did you want to be understood?

>> no, i look back and it gave me a different perspective on my life and what it was all about and you know, the ups and the downs, the goods and the bads, and it gave me a chance to go back. i almost had amnesia for everything that happened in my past. i was so busy living in today and looking towards the future that i had to go back and really resurrect a lot of things.

>> the book covers a lot of ground and one thing's gotten headlines, you of course had a very well-known relationship, you were engaged to another tennis star, chris evert . you write in the book, basically suggest that during your relationship she terminated a pregnancy. "an issue had arisen as a result of youthful fashion and a decision had to be made as a couple. i was perfectly happy to let nature to take its course and accept responsibility for what was to come. chrissie, however, had already made up her mind that the timing was bad and too much was riding on her future." she wrote "in his book he has written about a time in our relationship that was very personal and emotionally painful. i am extremely disappointed."

>> we were young and it was emotional and painful time for both of us and we had to deal with the effects.

>> should you have asked her, hey, is it okay if i write about this?

>> i didn't ask anybody at any time about what i was going to put in my book and it was my time. i looked back and reflected on it and you know, what we went through and the decisions that we had to make were very important and it affected my life.

>> you write about one of your struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder although nobody called it back then. i remember the shots of you bouncing that ball which you say was part of it. how did it manifest itself?

>> when you're young you just think it's something else, twitches or superstitions or something, and i remember playing my first wimbledon and bouncing the ball and i couldn't get off of it, i kept doing it until it felt right and i didn't understand it until i went home that night and i actually practiced bouncing the ball and trying not to bounce it so many times. later on, i saw a program on it, and the effects and what it was and almost what caused it and i just realized that i got that. that's what i've had, and it was tough at times. it wore me out quite a bit but it was all part of it.

>> you've had an interesting life, a long marriage, 33 years but you also talk in the book about how you kind of put your wife through it. i mean you had infidelities and you're very open about them.

>> well, tried to write the book like i played tennis. i was always very onest the way i play tennis and the people knew that and i think that's what they had come to expect from me and so i tried to write the book the same way. it's very easy to put only the good things in your book and you know, my life was filled with some not so good things and the way i approached those and the way i tried to be honest with myself and the way i put it in there was sometimes very difficult, but it's the way it was.

>> there's a lot in this book. you really do speak very, very candidly and a lot of tennis in it, too, for people who want to hear about your rivalry with john mcenroe .

>> we had some fun.

>> enyou're not so mad at him, right?

>> well we're not having dinner together but i think we've gotten over a lot of that, but there's still a little tension which makes it nice.

>> makes it real, not for show. jimmy connors thank you so much.

>> a pleasure.

>> the book is called "the