American women's tennis
star whose good looks
with Martina Navratilova
helped to raise the profile of women's tennis
. Won 18 Grand Slam
tournaments during her pro career (1972-1989).
Evert (DOB: December 21, 1954; Fort Lauderdale, FL) turned pro on her eighteenth birthday in 1972, after having success as an amateur, including reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 1971, at just 16 years of age (she lost to Billie Jean King in the semis) and winning the 1972 Virginia Slims championship.
In her first year as a pro (1973), Evert lost in the finals of both the French Open (to Margaret Court) and Wimbledon (to King).
The next year, she won both, gaining her first two Grand Slam victories. She would win at least one of the 4 Grand Slams every year from 1974-1986 (a record 13 straight years).
As a singles player, Evert won:
- 2 Australian Opens (1982 and 1984)
- 7 French Opens (1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1986)
- 3 Wimbledons (1974, 1976, and 1981)
- 6 U.S. Opens (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1982)
The 7 French Open wins is a women's record.
Evert's game was mostly hitting shots from the baseline, so she was at her best on clay, winning an amazing 125 straight matches on that surface from 1973-1979.
Evert also won the French Open doubles championship in 1974 (partnered with Olga Morozova) and 1975 (with Navratilova) and the doubles title at Wimbledon in 1976 (again, partnered with Navratilova).
The Associated Press named Evert its female athlete of the year in 1974, 1975, 1977, and 1980.
It was Evert's rivalry with Navratilova that dominated women's tennis for more than a decade.
Evert generally had more American fan support than Navratilova. She was the "all-American girl", and her good looks drew fans (similar to Anna Kournikova now, except much less blatant). On the other hand, Navratilova defected from Czechoslovakia in 1975, and was viewed by some as a "foreigner", even after she became a U.S. citizen in 1981. In addition, Navratilova was openly gay since the early 1980s, at a time when homosexuality wasn't as acceptable to many.
Despite all the differences and the intense on-court rivalry, the two became friends and their on-court battles were never personal.
The two played 80 times, usually in the later rounds of tournaments. Evert dominated the rivalry in the mid 1970s, but Navratilova won most of their matches in the 1980s, and ended up holding a 43-37 overall edge over Evert.
In 1979, Evert married John Lloyd, and was known as Chris Evert Lloyd through much of the 1980s. (They divorced in 1987, and Evert married Andy Mill in 1988).
Evert retired in 1989, with an impressive career singles mark of 1309-146, and 157 singles championships.
She has since been a tennis commentator for NBC and other broadcast outlets.
Chris Evert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury series named Evert #50 on their list of the top 100 athletes of the 20th century.