It was 43 years ago today - on July 29, 1974 - when American tennis legend Jimmy Connors first rose to No.1 in the world on the ATP World Tour, the first US man ever to hold the top ranking.
Connors’ rise to No.1 came off the heels of a phenomenal 12-month span that saw him win 91 of 100 matches, and a whopping 14 tournaments, including a pair of Grand Slam titles in 1974 at the Australian Open (beating Phil Dent in the final) and Wimbledon (beating Ken Rosewall in the final).
Between winning Wimbledon and playing his first tournament of the summer hardcourt season in Indianapolis - which he won - he became No.1 in the world, the first American man to do so, and third man overall since inception of computer rankings in 1973 (after Ilie Nastase and John Newcombe).
Here are some highlights from Connors’ win over Rosewall, which helped propel him to No.1:
And those two Grand Slam titles, the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1974, were just the beginning. Connors would win six more in his career - one more Wimbledon (1982) and five US Opens (1974, 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1983). He reached another seven Grand Slam finals as well, and four semifinals at the only major he didn’t win, the French Open, in 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1985.
Connors would also hold the No.1 ranking for a total of 268 weeks in his career, the fourth-most in ATP World Tour history after Roger Federer (302), Pete Sampras (286) and Ivan Lendl (270).
But one of his greatest achievements had to be his run to the semifinals of the 1991 US Open - as a 39-year-old - which has been a staple of TV coverage, rain or not, in two and a half decades since.
“Nothing compares to what happened here in the summer of 1991,” Connors says of that magical US Open run. “My two weeks on the court of Louis Armstrong Stadium were the greatest of my life.”
Here are a few throwbacks to the day Connors became No.1 in the world on July 19, 1974:
- John Newcombe was No.2, Tom Okker was No.3, Rod Laver was No.4 and Stan Smith was No.5.
- A 19-year-old Chris Evert had just won the second of her eventual 18 majors at Wimbledon.
- Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was just three months old.
- Mahesh Bhupathi was one month old; Hilary Swank was born a day later.
- And this was the No.1 song in America: