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29 Years After Flamboyant Tennis Legend’s Death, Jimmy Connors Reveals Personal Token of Friendship as He Remembers the Late American on a Special Day

Nothing unites the sporting world more than the loss of an iconic figure. The fiercest of rivals come together to honor the dead by putting aside their rivalries. Back in 1994, tennis lost one of its fiercest soldiers in a tragedy. Vitas Gerulaitis, the Lithuanian-American player, died due to a carbon monoxide leak while he was asleep. On the occasion of what would have been his 69th birthday, American tennis legend Jimmy Connors remembered his dear late friend in a touching message.

 

 

Gerulaitis’ death stunned the tennis fraternity as the star departed when he was just 40 years old. It has been 29 years since his death, but his friends still pay tribute to him to this date.
Jimmy Connors pays tribute to his late friend Vitas Gerulaitis

Connors and Gerulaitis shared a great off-court relationship during their playing days. Their rivalry was extremely lopsided as the latter lost 16 matches on the bounce before winning three in a row. Connors had famously said, “Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row” after his streak was broken.

On 26th July 2023, Gerulaitis would have turned 69 if not for the unfortunate tragedy that struck all those years ago. An emotional Connors took to Twitter to showcase his love for his lost friend. The American used his podcast account to send out his wishes. He posted a picture of a golf club that had ‘Vitas Gerulaitis’ engraved on its head. Alongside the club, he wrote a short and simple message, “Happy bday Vitas❤️“

However, Connors was not the only former tennis player to remember Vitas Gerulaitis on his birthday. Another prominent figure from the 1980s tennis joined him in acknowledging the former Grand Slam champion.

Connors-led tribute joined by Ecuadorian tennis icon
Andres Gomez, the 1990 Roland Garros champion, shared a small rivalry with Vitas Gerulaitis too. He also happened to be a good friend of both Americans in question. The Ecuadorian replied to Connor’s tribute with an old picture of him with Gerulaitis. He captioned the throwback with, “We all miss him !! HB Vitas !!” alongside the picture.

Connors further quoted Gomez and inquired about his personal life while wishing him good health as the two old friends remembered their beloved buddy. He said, “Yes we do— how are you my friend— long time no see— hope you and yours are well- stay safe ❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻🎾“.

It was heartwarming to see two old rivals uniting together to remember their lost friend and wish each other well. Sports build the strongest of friendships and bonds – and Connors and Gomez are yet another example of it.

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