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Gloria Connors, mother of tennis great, dies in Belleville


Belleville, Ill. – The mother who coached East St. Louis native Jimmy Connors to a grand slam tennis champion died this week.

Gloria Connors was 82 and lived in Belleville. She also played professional tennis; Jimmy said in a statement his mother made him a world champion.

Jimmy Connors also said she died peacefully, adding "she had an unwavering passion for tennis.

"She instilled passion, excitement and enthusiasm into me that was contagious to everyone around me. And yet separately, she was my mother and my friend."

Gloria Connors competed in the 1942 and 1943 U.S. Championships but is widely known for developing her son into a world-class player. She was Jimmy Connors' only coach for much of his career.

Jimmy Connors, who grew up in East St. Louis and Belleville, won eight Grand Slam singles crowns, 130 titles and held the No. 1 world ranking for 160 consecutive weeks. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Funeral services for Gloria Connors will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Blessed Sacrament Church in Belleville.

Jimmy Connors' current career is as a coach for Andy Roddick.

Roddick never met Gloria, saying she was sick when Jimmy Connors first became his coach mid last year, but felt she had an impact on his career.

Roddick also said he doubts Connors will join him at the Australian Open starting Monday. "There's something... a lot more important in his life right now than worrying about getting down here, it's halfway around the world," Roddick said Wednesday after a 6-2, 6-3 win over Tommy Haas in an exhibition tournament.

"I know she enjoyed when we started working together and watching the matches and she would pass on her opinions to Jimmy, from all accounts," Roddick said. "I've enjoyed her stories and her second hand opinions about what I should be doing out there."

The techniques and attitudes he was picking up from Connors were strongly shaped by Gloria, Roddick said.


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