E is for Chris (E)vert the women's tennis great of the seventies - #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterAtoZ 2019

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


Comments

  1. I am not a sports person (any sport), so I generally very uninformed about any athlete. However, I remember when Chris Evert hosted Saturday Night Live. Late 80's, I think.

    I am at Transformed Nonconformist. I usually write humor pieces, but I am getting serious this month. I'm writing about people who have deeply impacted my life.

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    1. Yes, she was active for a long time in Tv. In fact she still does make occasional appearances on TV. Glad to get to know you. I will be visiting your site soon.

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  2. I love to watch Tennis Tournaments but I don't know much about Chris Evert. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Not many people from the current generation are familiar with Chris Evert's name. She played in the seventies. Thanks for visiting.

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  3. This was a completely new name to me. Goes to prove how ignorant we are still about sports other than cricket and of late football in our country. Great post as usual Jai.

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    1. It is not really ignorance Sonia. Just that you have not heard of them. Not many people in India are familiar with tennis players from the seventies. In fact there are some really brilliant players like Rod Laver of Australia who played in the fifties and sixties. These were all greats. Thanks for visiting.

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  4. I remember her name very well, as my dad always refers hers and Martina's name while teaching me shuttle badminton. Not a single day used to pass with out talking about these two stars in my house during my school days. All this stopped after I reached +2 as have to concentrate on entrance exams!!!

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    1. Oh, so you have heard of her. Finally someone who knows who Chris Evert is! You know, I am trying to bring out stories of some yesteryear greats also and give them their day in today's times.

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  5. I never knew about her,Thanks for sharing this.

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  6. Chris Evert was one of the ladies, if not the lady, who popularised women's tennis. She had won many games by her finesse. Then Martina came alone with big muscle, booming serve and power play. Gone are the days of Chris Evert style of tennis, but Chris Evert has made a place for herself in the Tennis Hall of Fame and in the heart of tennis fans.

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    1. Yes, she was phenomenal in her day. But as you say soon a bunch of players who depended on raw power took centre stage and players like Chris Evert faded away. In more recent times Martina Hingis used to depend on technique more then power.

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  7. Wow... that is a name from the past. I too was of the Graf, Sabatini era and remember how the commentators would speak of the legend Chris Evert

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    1. Happy to note that you belong to my generation and are familiar with players like Sabatini and Chris Evert. Yes, people were in awe of these legends in our times.

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  8. This was new to me since I grew up seeing and wanting to become like Steffi Graf

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    1. Yes, Chris Evert is a very old name in tennis. Graf is more recent and most people are familiar with her. Thanks for visiting.

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  9. I have seen Chris Evert and Martina N. play on TV. I had enjoyed their matches. Evert looked delicate while Martina was a strong muscled lady. Glad to know that Evert runs a tennis Academy with her bro.

    https://ideasolsi65.blogspot.com/2019/04/eye-parts-of-body.html

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    1. Yes, Evert depended more on technique where people like Martina and the players who played after her time used to depend more on power. In recent times Martina Hingis used to look delicate and was a player who used technique rather than power.

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  10. My bad, never heard of her. Thanks for sharing her journey and accolades Jai, again a wonderful post.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Vartika. All these are very old players. I am just trying to bring some of the older sporting greats to people's attention.

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  11. Evert has the highest win % in singles and that record looks like it will stand the test of time. She had a gorgeous double-handed backhand. My favorite players of that era are Evert and Ivan Lendl. I have watched a lot of their matches on youtube when I started playing tennis to learn the tips and techniques. But my all time favourite is the one and only Pistol Pete Sampras.

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    1. Ivan Lendl could never win Wimbledon. He came to the finals quiet often but somehow he lost in all the finals he played. He won the junior Wimbledon though. He famously said, 'Grass is for cows' out of frustration when Wimbledon continuously eluded him. He was a clay court player. Pete Sampras was of course a phenomenon but the only trouble was he completely lacked charisma and this used to be the reporter's grouse. most often.

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    2. Who cares about charisma when you can out-smoke your opponent on 3 surfaces out of 4? BTW, Lendl had a fabulous forehand which was quite different from the others during his age. His swing was less pronounced than the flourishing style of his days. In a way, Lendl was the father of modern tennis that focuses on shorter batswings.

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    3. I agree Sampras' game was simply fabulous and of course for a true lover of the game things like charisma are hardly a consideration. Only on one rare occasion did I see Sampras being completely outplayed. This happened in the US open when Patrick Rafter played outstadingly to defeat Sampras. After losing in 3 straight sets Sampras told the press, 'Today was his day. It is not very often that someone carwaxes me like that.' Lendl though a great player was not my favourite. In fact I even like Becker more.

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  12. My Tennis love started only with Steffi Graff. I know not anyone before that. Reading about Evert is definitely awe-inspiring!

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    1. Yes, I am trying to bring out the stories of some of the older players and let people know about them. Thanks for visiting.

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  13. I didn't really watch when Evert played. I started watching when Steffi Graf and Monica Seles,Hinges used to play. At some point I stopped watching most sports though. Good article

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    1. I was a fan of Steffi Graf and to a lesser extent Martina Hingis. But the one player whom I felt would would have really risen to great heights was Monica Seles. It was only that unfortunate knifing incident when she was playing in Germany that put the breaks on what could have been an astonishing career.

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  14. That’s a fantastic post. Loved reading about her in details. Looking for more. I hope you have reserved R for Roger 🤩

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    1. Happy you liked the post. Regarding Federrer I will definitely thin about it. The letter 'R' is still in the pipeline :))

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  15. You have gathered so much information! Very well researched and presentation.

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  16. I was ignorant on sports during the school days, picked up slight interest in Olympics and post meeting my spouse transformed into full fledged sports junkie. We watch EPL, La Liga, Tennis Tournaments, Commonwealth, Cricket and what not. However, tennis is still something I need to keep up with the info. I learned details about a great player, will show my newly acquired knowledge to Mr. Husband :-)

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    1. Happy my posts are proving to be helpful to you in improving your sports knowledge. Thanks for visiting.

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  17. I used to follow sports during my school days. I am so glad to read such a great post about the sports star of the yester years.

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    1. Yes, most people are not familiar with star from way back. I am trying to bring the stories of a few such stars to people. Thanks for visiting.

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  18. I remember Chris Evert as being one of the good looking and well dressed women in Tennis. A few months ago my husband and I were talking and her name came up, and we were wondering where she is. Thanks to your detailed post, now I know.

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    1. Yes, I had a big crush on her and rooted for her every time she played. As you mentioned I am trying to bring out stories of older sports persons as most people are only familiar with Federrer and Murray these days.

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