My all time favorite tennis player is Chris Evert. She is a few years older than I am, and influenced me tremendously when I was a teenager playing junior tennis in Northern California. I read every tennis magazine with the girl from Fort Lauderdale, FL on the cover and watched every match she played on TV. When the Virginia Slims circuit came into the SF Bay area, my sister and I went to as many of her matches as possible. I met her a number of times, usually asking her a tennis question first and then, for her autograph. She was always very gracious and down to earth. The highlight for me was many, many years later when I turned 50 years old. More on that in a future post!
My Chris Evert obsession began when I was 14 years old and she was 16. She made it to the semi-finals of the 1971 US Open, which was held on the grass courts of Forest Hills, New York. What caught my attention, was how laser focused she was on the tennis court. Her two-handed backhand had pin point accuracy and she was without a doubt the most consistent player in the world! I even tried to learn a two handed backhand for about six weeks, which did not work for me, so I went back to the more common (in the early 1970’s) one-hander. That US Open put her on the map so to speak! She was still a school girl and beat veteran opponents including an amazing comeback vs MaryAnn Eisel.
Chris was eventually stopped by the “Ole Lady”, Billie Jean King. Billie Jean recognized Chris’ popularity and embraced her as the new face of tennis.
Chris Evert’s overall career winning percentage of singles matches of 89.97% (1309–146) is the highest in the history of Open Era tennis, for men or women. She is a stand-out in the tennis record books, with so many achievements too numerous list in total, but some include:
- 34 Grand Slam singles finals
- Reached the semifinals or better 52 of the 56 Grand Slams she played
- Most consecutive years (13) to win at least one Grand Slam title
- Won 125 consecutive matches on clay
Her domination was long-lasting and she was the most popular tennis player in the world for many years. She had many nick-names, like “Ice Maiden” or “Chris America” or “Little Miss Poker Face”. Her greatest rival was lefty, Martina Navratilova and they played an amazing 80 times with Chris behind by 37–43 in win-losses. They made each other better on and off the court and still remain friends today, forty years later.
Chris Evert was the number one tennis player in the world for seven years and is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. After her retirement in 1989, she raised a family (three sons) with second husband, Andy Mill. She has been married three times, to fellow tennis pro John Lloyd, Olympic skier Andy Mill and golfer Greg Norman. She owns the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida with her younger brother John Evert and is a TV tennis commentator on ESPN. She is a publisher and contributor to Tennis Magazine and is still considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time! She even hosted Saturday Night Live back in the 1980s! Here is the promo for her hosting debut, below.
If you play tennis or watch tennis, you know Chris Evert. Her contribution to the game of tennis is huge, as a Hall of Famer and ambassador and role model. Please feel free to comment below of your thoughts about Chris.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.