Jimmy Connors: The Outsider in the Abortion of his Unborn Child
by Kevin Burke, LSW
Jimmy Connors is one of the greatest tennis professionals in the history of the sport. During the 1970’s he set records for his host of titles and championships.
With the release of Tennis pro Jimmy Connors autobiography “The Outsider” in 2014 we learn of an unplanned pregnancy and abortion with women’s tennis champion Chris Evert when they were young sweethearts engaged to be married.
Connors shares about the pregnancy and their decision to go through with an abortion:
“An issue had arisen as a result of youthful passion, and a decision had to be made as a couple,” he writes in The Outsider. “Chrissie called to say she was coming out to LA to take care of the ‘issue’. I was perfectly happy to let nature take its course and accept responsibility for what was to come.”
The next exchange between the couple likely sealed the fate of their unborn child:
“Chrissie, however, had already made up her mind that the timing was bad and too much was riding on her future,” he writes. “She asked me to handle the details.”
He told Evert:
“Well, thanks for letting me know. Since I don’t have any say in the matter, I guess I am just here to help.”
And so it was. The Outsider “handled the details” and arranged for the abortion of his unborn child.
When Evert approached Connors with her mind seemingly made up, he made a serious and deadly mistake many fathers make during this challenging and emotional time for a young couple – he failed to fight for the life of his child.
This sent a clear signal to the mother who may have heard in his response:
“I am open to you having the baby, but I’m not going to fight too hard to protect the child and I may or may not be around to help…so if you’re minds made up anyway, I’ll respect whatever you decide.”
There is no guarantee that Evert would have changed her mind if Connors was more determined to fight for the child’s life. But it was the best hope their baby had for survival.
Once the father communicates ambivalence and does not strongly express the natural desire to protect his offspring, the mother may understandably fear making the sacrifices of single parenting unsure if the father will continue to love and support them both.
Women also understandably fear the resentment and anger a man may express later when facing the responsibilities and stress of an unplanned child.
“It was a horrible feeling, but I knew it was over,” Connors writes. “Getting married wasn’t going to be good for either of us.”
Rather than the joy of youthful love and passion and anticipation of married life together, the couple now shared a dark secret…a participation in the death of their unborn son or daughter.
Both tennis pros went on to stellar careers. On the surface it may appear that they “made the right decision.” But like many couples after abortion, the fruit of this tragic choice is evident as their lives unfold.
Connors, now 64, struggled with a gambling addiction and the infidelities that “came close to ruining his marriage” to former Playboy model Patti McGuire.
Men, who later regret, reconcile and heal of a previous abortion decision report that along with addictions and infidelity, anger was a way they repressed and expressed their painful emotions such as guilt and complicated grief around that abortion event and their role in the child’s death.
Connors on and off-court anger issues and fireworks are likely part of his personality and competitive spirit. But they also may have helped him express some of the shame, guilt and grief about the loss of his son or daughter to abortion.
Evert experienced a common post abortion symptom for some women and men – instability in intimate relationships. Chrissie, now 58 has been married three times. All three marriages ended in divorce.
Abortion is a life changing event that strikes at the deepest part of the human person. The abortion account of Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert reflects, on a much grander stage, what has been the experience of millions of young couples.
They valiantly press on with their lives, perhaps like Connors and Evert achieving great success as they struggle to bury that abortion event deep in their past.
But the symptoms in their lives after abortion call them to reconcile and heal of this loss, buried deep in their hearts and souls.