E is for Chris (E)vert the women’s tennis great of the seventies – #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterAtoZ 2019
Image Courtesy: Wikipedia.org
By the time I reached my late twenties, I had stopped taking interest in Tennis. It was during my school and college days that I used to watch the finals of the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open championships without fail. My favourite stars in the men’s circuit were Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg.
I was a fan of several tennis stars in the ladies circuit too. I loved Chris Evert’s skilful play, Martina Navratilova’s power and Steffi Graf’s booming serves. I was also a fan of the Argentinian Gabriela Sabatini. There was another player by the name of Carling Bassett who was the favourite of all of us students at IIT. She was a Canadian and not a very accomplished star, but she was gorgeous to look at and that was enough to make us students swoon.
The player whose story I am going to present today is that of Christine Marie Evert who was also known as Chris Evert Lloyd for a brief period of two years. She was born on December 21, 1954, to Colette and Jimmy Evert. Her family was a devout Catholic family and she did her schooling from the St Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale. Her father Jimmy Evert was a professional tennis coach. When she was five years old Evert began taking tennis lessons from her father Jimmy. Chris Evert had a sister by the name Jeanne and a brother called John. Chris and Jeanne became professional tennis players while John played tennis at the university level.
In 1969 Evert became the No 1 ranked under-14 player in the US. Evert then won the national-16 and under championship and played an eight-player clay court tournament in which she defeated the World No 1, Margaret Court in the semi-final. This led to her selection for the Wightman Cup. She made her Grandslam Debut in the 1971 US open and during the course of the tournament, she defeated Billie Jean King, Virginia Wade and Betty Stove who were all top-seeded players.
Evert was the runner-up in the 1973 French Open and Wimbledon Championships. In 1974 Evert had a record 55 consecutive match winning streak and she won both the French Open and Wimbledon that year. In 1975 Evert won her second French Open. For the next five consecutive years, Evert was the World No 1 player. Evert was World No 1 for 260 weeks overall. In the year 1976, she won both Wimbledon and the US open. This was the only time she had won both in the same year.
Until February 2013, she held the record of being the oldest woman to be ranked WTA number 1 at the age of 30 years and 11 months. Just like Bjorn Borg on whom I wrote earlier, Evert always maintained a calm, collected and steady demeanour. Not one to get rattled by the tense moments on the court, she could pull back from positions when she was very close to defeat and eventually go on to win the match. She dominated the women’s game for a long time.
She won two more US Open titles in 1977 and 1978. But in the latter half of the seventies, her domination of the game was challenged by a swash-buckling Czech whose name was Martina Navratilova. The two of them were doubles partners and very good friends off-court. But their on-court rivalry was fierce and one of the most noted in women’s tennis history. In the early stages of their rivalry, Evert got the better of Martina but by the early eighties, Martina upgraded her game and achieved total domination.
Evert won her last Grand Slam title in the Australian Open of 1988 at the age of thirty-three when she defeated Navratilova in the semi-final and then went on to win the final. Of the thirty-four times, Evert reached a Grand Slam final, she won eighteen. Of these seven were at the French Open, six at the US Open, three at Wimbledon and two at the Australian Open. In addition, Evert also won three Grandslam Doubles titles. Evert faced Martina Navratilova in fourteen Grandslam titles of which she could win only ten. Effectively it was Navratilova who put an end to Evert’s domination in women’s tennis.
Earlier in 1974 Evert and Jimmy Connors won the women’s and men’s Wimbledon Championships respectively and danced away in puppy love at the championship ball. This romance caught the public’s imagination and Evert got engaged to Connors. She was nineteen at that time. A marriage was planned later but the romance did not last and was called off. Evert’s second marriage was to a British tennis player John Lloyd which lasted for two years. During the time she was married to Lloyd, she changed her name to Chris Evert Lloyd.
Evert later married Olympic skier Andy Mill with whom she has three sons Alexander, Nicholas and Colton. In 2008 she married her third husband an Australian golfer Greg Corman but this also ended in 2009. Evert has several accolades to her name. She was voted Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year on four occasions. She was the first female athlete to be elected the Sports Illustrated magazine’s ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ in 1976. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the year 1995. She was also named as the fourth of the forty greatest players of the tennis era by the TENNIS magazine.
Nowadays Evert contributes to tennis magazines and runs the Evert Tennis Academy with her brother John. She is also into the tennis apparels business. I hope you enjoyed reading about this athlete who scaled the heights of the tennis world. Though many of you may not have heard about her, she was an extremely popular favourite thirty-five years back. Tomorrow I will bring you the story of yet another sportsperson and this time I promise you it will be a riveting story.
Tags – #AtoZChallenge 2019 #BlogchatterAtoZ 2019