Canadian tennis legend Grant Connell suffers stroke

North Vancouver native and former world No. 1 doubles player recovering in hospital

North Shore tennis legend Grant Connell is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke last week.

Grant’s father Jim Connell confirmed to the North Shore News that Grant, age 54, suffered a stroke Wednesday, Feb. 19, while jogging in Stanley Park. When the former pro tennis player began experiencing adverse symptoms on his jog, he gave his phone to a passerby and asked him to call 911, said Jim. He was taken to Vancouver General Hospital where he remains today.

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“Cognitively he’s great,” said Jim about his son’s recovery. “His sight is OK, his left side is paralyzed at the moment but it’s just too early to see how that is going to go. He’s going to need a lot of rehabilitation.”

Grant Connell is regarded as one of the best tennis players in Canadian history. Born in Regina and raised in North Vancouver, Connell played professionally for 12 years from 1986-97, reaching No. 67 in the world in men’s singles.

The left-hander made his biggest mark in doubles, reaching the world No. 1 overall ranking for doubles players in 1993. He won 22 tour doubles titles in his career and reached at least the semifinals at all four Grand Slam tournaments in doubles. He was a doubles finalist three times at Wimbledon and once at the Australian Open.

Connell was also a cornerstone of Canada’s Davis Cup team, putting up a record of 8-3 in singles and 15-6 in doubles. His wins helped put Canada into the Davis Cup World Group for the first time ever in 1991 and again in 1992, and he also competed for Canada in the Olympics in 1988 and 1996. Connell is a member of the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame and B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, and will be inducted into the North Shore Sports Hall of Fame next month.

Connell now works as a Realtor in West Vancouver. He and his wife Sarah have five children ranging in age from 13 to 21. Jim said his gregarious son has been surrounded by family and friends since suffering his stroke.

“Everybody has been going up on a daily basis – he’s got a crowd of people there, he needs traffic control,” said Jim. “Everybody is trying to stay positive. Grant has always had a sharp sense of humour and it’s still with him. He’s enjoying these kind of digs that he’s getting from his tennis family. There are a lot of stories coming in. His oldest daughter Madison usually ends up reading them to him. It’s good for him. It’s all very supportive.”  

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