Chris Evert is a retired American tennis player, and easily one of the world's greatest ever. At one point of time, in the late 70s, she so thoroughly dominated the women's game that she was considered nearly unbeatable.
Evert crafted an indelible legacy on her beloved claycourts, winning a record 7 French Open titles and a further 3 US Open crowns (when it was played on clay). She also formed one half of the most famous rivalry in all of women's tennis: her tussle for supremacy with Martina Navratilova was the subject of endless debate and scrutiny during their playing days, and continues to be so till today.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 2-time Champion (1982, 1984)
French Open: 7-time Champion (1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986)
Wimbledon: 3-time Champion (1974, 1976, 1981)
US Open: 6-time Champion (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
No. of weeks at No. 1: 260
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
Evert was a solid baseliner who used her movement and consistency to outrally her opponents. She didn't rush the net as much as her peers did, and instead relied on her accurate passing shots to counter their aggressive approach.
Evert didn't impart a lot of topspin to her groundstrokes. Instead, she hit flat and with relatively less power, preferring to keep the ball in play rather than go for quick winners.
The American's foot speed and steadiness were here two biggest assets, which were particularly effective on clay and other slow surfaces. She rarely made wild unforced errors, and always compelled her opponents to come up with risky shots to hit past her.
Her backhand was a path-breaking shot; she used a two-hander at a time when one-handers were the overwhelmingly prevalent choice. As a result, she was able to defend off that wing in a way that very few in her generation could, giving her an automatic advantage in long rallies.
Evert's forehand was also very consistent, and although she didn't come to the net too often, she had efficient volleying skills. Her mental strength was also one of her most significant strengths; her ability to remain steady in the face of pressure has been widely celebrated.
Evert's only real weakness was that she lacked the ability to finish points quickly, the way some of her more powerful peers could. She didn't have the biggest serve or the hardest groundstrokes, which meant that the match wasn't always on her racquet.
Significant Chris Evert records
Evert created numerous records in her incredibly successful career, the most significant of which are as follows:
- Most Grand Slam finals ever by any player, male or female: 34
- Most consecutive semifinals in Grand Slams played by any player ever, male or female: 34
- Most consecutive years winning at least 1 Grand Slam: 13
- 4th highest Grand Slam singles titles won: 18
- Highest percentage of Grand Slam semifinals reached: 92.8% (52 semifinals out of 56 Slams entered)
- Highest percentage of Grand Slam quarterfinals reached: 96.4% (54 quarterfinals out of 56 Slams entered)
- Most Roland Garros titles won by a female player: 7
- Highest ever career match winning percentage: 89.97% (1309-146 record)
- Longest winning streak on clay: 125 matches
Evert was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has tennis in her blood. Her father Jimmy was a tennis coach, mother Colette was a club player, and sisters Clare and Jeanne as well as brothers John and Drew all played tennis at some level or the other.
Evert turned pro in 1972, and quickly became a media and fan favorite. By the time she won her first Grand Slam, at the French Open in 1974, she was already a national icon.
Evert has been involved in numerous high-profile relationships, and her engagement to Jimmy Connors in 1974 inspired a huge media frenzy. That relationship didn't last long though, and Evert went on to get married thrice - to tennis player John Lloyd from 1979 to 1987, skier Andy Mill from 1988 to 2006, and golfer Greg Norman from 2008 to 2009.
Evert has three children: Alexander, Nicholas and Colton, all born during her marriage to Mill.
Evert will always be known as the first female tennis superstar; her fame transcended the boundaries of the sport and made her a global icon the like of which had never been seen before.
She was a model of consistency, and her record of reaching the semifinals in all but four of the Grand Slams she entered will probably never be broken. She also earned tremendous acclaim for her nerves of steel on the court; very few players in the history of tennis have been as tough to put away as Evert.
Evert's rivalry with Navratilova is the stuff of folklore. Although Evert ended up with a losing record in the head-to-head (by the small margin of 37-43), she produced several unforgettable epic matches with her co-legend.
Evert's accomplishments on clay are so great that even the great Rafael Nadal hasn't been able to surpass some of them. Her winning streak of 125 claycourt matches will likely stand the test of time; nobody else has even come close to that number.
The American's contribution to the physical evolution of tennis is a monumental achievement on its own. Her two-handed backhand became the template for millions of players who came after her, and her steady baseline game was the forerunner of the modern counterpunching style. She even founded a tennis training centre called the Evert Tennis Academy, where countless young tennis players are taught the game.
There is almost nothing that Evert failed to achieve in tennis. It is only fitting, then, that she is one of the most celebrated figures in the sport's history.
Social media presence:
Chris Evert Instagram: @chrissieevert
Chris Evert Twitter: @ChrissieEvert