Settling an Old Tennis Score

Photo, Settling an Old Tennis Score, Morgue file00040674424

Jimmy Connors, of long-ago tennis fame, has written a book. In an obvious attempt to stir up interest, certain juicy teasers have been ‘leaked.’ Among them is the strong implication by Mr. Connors that he did not marry Chris Evert (herself a tennis star) because she chose to have an abortion. It would seem this alleged event took place after they were engaged about 40 years ago when he was 22 and she was 19. Ms. Evert, while apparently outraged by the story, is not admitting or denying its validity.


There are many ways to look at Connors’ seeming ‘revelation,’ but none appears to be defensible and none seem to be about ‘love’ – unless you are referencing a tennis score. No matter what your beliefs or feelings about the issue of abortion, I would respectfully suggest that this particular story tells more about Jimmy Connors’ character than anything else.

It takes two to have unprotected sex and two to risk a pregnancy, although obviously only one of those two young athletes would have carried any alleged baby for nine months. And while it may be easy for him to say now that he would have done the ‘right thing’ by her, how selective is his memory and what exactly would the right thing have been for him to do? And if he were willing to be such a ‘gentleman’ at the time, then why is he being such a cad now?


Certain decisions and events between two people, who at least loved each other enough to seriously consider getting married, are not in anyone else’s ‘need to know’ column. Their exposure these 40 years later seems mean spirited and pointless. We all have had to make decisions about many things in our lives that, when we were older and wiser, we might do differently. We trust that those who were in the middle of those decisions with us will not deliberately betray us then or later…and certainly not for better book sales.

I have seen divorce and paternity cases where people knew many more scandalous things about their spouses or lovers than this and had the good grace to not use them either in or out of the courtroom. I applauded them when they chose to take the higher road, though I understand the temptation to ‘tell all’ when you are no longer in love.

The Connors story is a good example of why honoring the unwritten code of silence in your personal relationship is the right thing to do. In my opinion, it would appear that Jimmy Connors will not come out a winner in this particular match.


About Gemma Allen

Gemma Allen is a partner in Ladden & Allen, Chartered, and has practiced family law for most of her career. Ms. Allen has written more than 50 articles and lectured on topics that include divorce, child support, maintenance, mediation, cohabitation, women and money, and reconciliation. She co-authored The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In, or Moving On! and helps you navigate modern relationships in “Relationship Gems.”