The long goodbye

It's not yet game, set, match for Jimmy Connors, even at 47

Never mind that he was right. No one will ever be able to replace Jimmy Connors -- not the 20-year-old mama's boy or the 47-year-old senior-circuit champion. And that, perhaps, is why he still plays. Because, quite simply, he is Jimmy Connors, and what the hell else is he supposed to do?

"I loved playing tennis, and I loved everything about it -- I loved the sacrifice. But the actual playing of the tennis was what it was really all about. I don't do this to be around tennis, and it's not about missing the fans. I walked away from that nine years ago, when I left the U.S. Open and that craziness. It's the idea of still doing something I like to do, and eventually I'm not going to like it anymore. I'm going to wake up one day, and my body's going to hurt worse than it does, and I'm gonna say, 'I really don't like doing this anymore.' And when I don't like it, then I am going to quit totally. I will never pick up a racket again. It will be totally over, and I hate to say that. But once I walk away, I will have had enough."

Until then, he will chase little yellow balls.

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