Sir Sean Connery died at his home in the Bahamas at the age of 90, his family announced on Saturday morning, passing peacefully in his sleep after suffering from dementia, and a life-time supporter of tennis.
I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves. Sir Sean Connery
Hollywood’s original James Bond, Connery rose above that character to become an accomplished actor, who won an Oscar as best supporting actor for his role in 1987’s The Untouchables, and was adored by countless fans around the world.
Tennis fans held a soft spot for the irascible Scot from the poor end of Edinburgh, who worked from a very young age at a variety of jobs, joined the Navy and then took to acting.
He was the first Bond, a role he played over five films, but he was determined not to become typecast, and he absolutely loved tennis.
Although he had remained away from the spotlight for years following his retirement roughly 17 years ago, he continued to frequent Wimbledon and New York, with his final public appearance coming at the 2017 US Open.
When he arrived to watch a match featuring Roger Federer and Frances Tiafoe, tournament organisers spotted Connery in the crowd and honoured him by playing the James Bond theme over the loudspeakers as fans gave him a standing ovation.
Those watching from home tweeted about the US Open being a huge sports event and expressed excitement about seeing Connery out in public.
Over the years, Connery could be found at the two majors supporting another knight and fellow Scot, Sir Andy Murray, and they became firm friends.
He would also watch matches by other titans of the game, including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and others, taking in the 2015 US Open final between the two icons, and enjoying a range of matches in earlier rounds at the majors.
Connery’s devilishly humour was on show when he drolly interrupted a Murray press conference at the 2012 US Open alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, the then manager of Manchester United, and Murray’s mother, Judy.
The trio came into the interview room and surprised many members of the media.
“Excuse me for interrupting, but I just wanted to make a point,” Connery said. “Where’s Alex? I don’t know where your mother is. Ah, there she is.”
According to the Guardian, Murray then asked Connery if he would be around for the final match, but the longtime actor did not hear the question.
Murray then noticed that his mother smelled like wine, and she responded by saying that Ferguson had convinced her to have some while explaining how Scotland ‘invented the world’.
At that point, Connery then said: “Today they conquered the world!”
Ferguson agreed, and then they departed once again to let Murray resume his press conference.
Apparently the Scottish actor was reportedly the subject of an offer from Matt Busby to join Manchester United in the 1950s.
“I really wanted to accept because I loved football,” Connery is quoted as saying in FIFA’s tweet. “I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”
Connery’s interruption was not the only interaction with Murray on the day, as the two had a one-on-one conversation together and then posed for some photos.
Murray went on to defeat Novak Djokovic in the finals, securing his first Grand Slam title.
Not just a spectator when it came to tennis, Connery was well known over the years for his pure enjoyment of playing the sport.
Connery enjoyed retirement, living in Nassau in the Bahamas, with his second wife, French painter Micheline Roquebrune where he remained until his death on Friday night.
A statement from Sir Sean’s publicist said: “His wife Micheline and his two sons, Jason and Stephane, have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family.
“There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended.”
Jason told the BBC: “We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time.
“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”
Connery was knighted by the Queen in 2000 and celebrated his 90th birthday in August. His five-decade career saw him win an Oscar, two Baftas and three Golden Globes.