A NBC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: TENNIS LEGEND JIMMY CONNORS SITS DOWN WITH HARRY SMITH BEFORE THE RELEASE OF HIS TELL-ALL MEMOIR "THE OUTSIDER"
NEW YORK - May 7, 2013 - In a NBC News exclusive interview, tennis legend Jimmy Connors sits down with Harry Smith before the release of his tell-all memoir, The Outsider. In this raw and revealing interview, Connors addresses his compulsive gambling, controversial mother, infidelity, and for the first time - why his celebrated engagement to Chris Evert fell apart.On Friday, May 10 Jimmy Connors will be live on "TODAY" and later that night at 10p/9c on "Rock Center with Brian Williams," viewers will hear more about Connor's life story, in his own words.Sound bites follow - if used, must include mandatory credit with air date and time: "Rock Center with Brian Williams," Friday, May 10 at 10p/9c.
Why Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert split up
HARRY SMITH:From what I'm reading, it looks to me like she (Chris Evert) had an abortion. Did you and Chris have a conversation about this, about making a decision like that?
JIMMY CONNORS:Well, that was a certainly a decision that needed to be made. And -- you know, to face that together and to go through that together - was a necessity. Sure.
HARRY SMITH:It also sounds to me from the book like you were ready-- you were prepared to be a father. You would have been willing to be a father to that child.
JIMMY CONNORS:I was. But, you know, accepting responsibility was something that I've always done. I have never ever apologized for anything. I have felt if I do it, it's done. And that's the way I've always gone about it. And I was brought up that way.
Regarding the affair he had
HARRY SMITH:Your wife (Patti) has had a child. You have a little boy. You're having this very public affair. You even bring this woman to visit at your mother's house in Illinois. And in the end of the day, Patti takes you back.
JIMMY CONNORS:Well, I guess the best thing to say about that is I wrote the book as honest as I played tennis. Now, you know, I was right straight in your face. And I didn't complain about the way I played tennis. So I'm not complainin' about the way I wrote the book.
HARRY SMITH:Why ... let me just ask ... why did you stay?PATTI CONNORS:Bottom line is I loved him. I loved him. I came from a broken family. My mother and father were divorced when I was 19 months old. And you know, no one's infallible. We all make mistakes. And there is one word that is in the vocabulary, everyone who gets through life has to use. And it's called forgiveness.
JIMMY CONNORS:I think that it's been written many times that Patti Connors was a saint to put up with Jimmy Connors. And I've said that's the only thing the press really got right about my whole career. They don't know how right they are about that.
In response to his gambling addiction
HARRY SMITH:You had a Jones?
JIMMY CONNORS:I did. I had a problem.
HARRY SMITH:Did you ever figure out how much money you lost over the years?
JIMMY CONNORS:I mean, I didn't know when to quit I either had to break the bank or break me. And, you know, there's only one winner there. And it's not me. And if I won two games, I had three or four. If I won four, I had to win six. So I'd just keep until, you know, I'd explode.
HARRY SMITH:Did you go broke?
JIMMY CONNORS:No, there's somebody that wouldn't let me do that. Patti would not let me do that.
Don Nash is the executive producer of "Today" (Mon. - Fri. 7-11am). David Corvo is the senior executive producer, Alexandra Wallace is the executive producer and Brian Williams is the anchor and managing editor of "Rock Center with Brian Williams" (Fridays 10p/9c).