This week's TennisIDENTITY Flashback focuses on the Belleville Basher himself, Jimmy Connors. Connors is still a formidable presence in the game (except around Maria Sharapova), and has a long and involved equipment history. (I'm gonna try to go through this chronologically, but don't hold me to it!)
Like many other pros of his era, he started off with Fred Perry attire and his famous steel T-2000, which was invented by Musketeer Rene Lacoste. (Yes, THAT Lacoste.) He then moved briefly to Sergio Tacchini (and 'Hang Ten' socks) before settling in with his own "JC" line by American maker Robert Bruce.
Connors was also one of the first pros to wear a new line of sneakers called "Nike." Nike eventually gave way to his own line of shoes that bore his Robert Bruce red/blue arrow logo, called "Super Pros." Vilas wore his own style of these for a time, also. Connors stayed with the Robert Bruce line until the early 1980s or so, when he began to appear in Cerutti 1881, an Italian line also wore by Mats Wilander. The shirt/short design looked a lot like the Bruce line. Maybe there was a licensing deal?
He also started wearing Brooks tennis shoes with a tiny JC on the side – I believe the only pro to wear them. In the mid 1980s
, his T-2000 finally gave way to a Wilson Pro Staff, a Slazenger ceramic, (he also began wearing his own JC line of Slazenger clothing) and an Estusa frame. Shoes shifted to Converse before settling on a Nike Challenge Court pair in the early 90s … that he still wears to this day, though they are long out of production.
Speaking of out-of-production, Connors still swings an unmarked Prince Mono, too. I also found this
clothing on eBay, and I have NO knowledge of this. Never heard of it. Connors was at one point in the early 90s supposed to have his own classic line of tennis gear from Reebok
. (These are his shoes, apparently
.) Never saw him wear the brand on the court once, although a photo or two exists of him at exos. – Brinke Guthrie