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International Tennis Hall of Fame Announces the Passing of Gloria Connors

January 12, 2007 01:55 PM

NEWPORT, RI -- The International Tennis Hall of Fame has announced the passing of Gloria Florence (Thompson) Connors, mother of 1998 Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors. Gloria Connors passed away quietly on Jan. 8, 2007 at home in Belleville, Illinois.  She was 82. 

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Jimmy Connors, who was with his mother in Belleville, said she died peacefully. In remembering his mother to close friends, he said, “She had an unwavering passion for tennis. All my life, she taught me - made me a world champion - she always got me to do things without my even realizing. 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 was an accomplished tennis player herself, who played in the 1942 and 1943 US Championships, then held at Forest Hills. Throughout most of her son Jimmy’s tennis career she was his coach -- his only coach -- and it was often pointed out that she was “a woman who developed a male champion in a men’s sport.”

Gloria Connors was always ahead of her time and she laid the foundation for a 21-year career of eight Grand Slam singles crowns, 130 titles and a No. 1 world ranking held for 160 consecutive weeks. Gloria Connors has been called one of the most famous sports mothers, instilling in her son the art of being one of the toughest competitive tennis players ever to play the game. 

Additionally, Gloria Connors was very active for many years in the Belleville, Illinois community, teaching tennis to the “kids of Belleville” in order to keep them off the streets, which often led to scholarships and jobs. 

Gloria Connors’ last public tennis appearance was at her son’s official Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held in Newport, Rhode Island in July, 1998. 

A wake will be held this Thursday, January 11, 4:00pm-8:00pm at Kurrus Funeral Home, 1773 Frank Scott Parkway in Belleville, Illinois 62223 (618-235-2100).  The funeral will be held on Friday, January 12 at 10:00am at the Blessed Sacrament Church, 8707 West Main Street, Belleville (618-397-2287). 

The Connors family has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to The Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, 300 North 60th Street, Belleville, IL 62223 (618-235-4407).

For additional information contact:

Kat Anderson, International Tennis Hall of Fame, 401-849-3990

Karen Scott Happer, 941-480-0264

Tennis has lost a remarkable women and USTA Florida gives our condolences to the Connor family.

 

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