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Gloria Connors, 82; son inherited passion for tennis

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- Former tennis pro Gloria Connors, who coached her son Jimmy to multiple Grand Slam championships and a number one world ranking, died Monday at age 82, the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced.

Mrs. Connors died at her Belleville home, apparently of natural causes, said Dale Kurrus, whose funeral home is handling the wake.

Her son said she died peacefully. "She had an unwavering passion for tennis," he said in a statement released by the Hall of Fame. "All my life, she taught me -- made me a world champion -- she always got me to do things without my even realizing. She instilled passion, excitement, and enthusiasm into me that was contagious to everyone around me. "

Mrs. Connors competed in the 1942 and 1943 US Championships but is widely known for developing her son into a world-class player. She was Connors's only coach for much of his career.

Jimmy Connors won eight Grand Slam singles crowns, 130 titles, and held the number one world ranking for 160 consecutive weeks.