"I'd never vote him for President... They think people will forget Chappaquiddick" - When Chris Evert refused to support John F. Kennedy's brother Ted

Chris Evert (L) and Ted Kennedy (R)
Chris Evert (L) and Ted Kennedy (R)

Chris Evert once firmly declared that she would not vote for Senator Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy in the 1972 US presidential election. Evert explained the reason behind her refusal to support John F. Kennedy's younger brother, despite her and her parents' admiration for the 35th American President.

Growing up with politically diverse parents, Evert was exposed to contrasting viewpoints, as her father Jimmy identified as a "conservative Democrat," while her mother Colette was a "staunch Republican."

These differing political stances were on display in an interview with The New York Times, where the American and her family candidly discussed their thoughts on the 1972 US presidential election.

Chris Evert disclosed that politics was rarely ever a topic of discussion in their household, with the sole exception being their family's shared admiration for the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

"Politics are just never discussed in this family. We never have time, anyway. About the only politician we all liked was John F. Kennedy," Chris Evert said.

Her mother Colette then asked for the family's opinion on John F. Kennedy's brother, Ted Kennedy, potentially becoming the president.

"How about Teddy [Kennedy]?" Colette asked.

However, Chris Evert promptly rejected the idea, asserting that she would never support the Massachusetts Senator due to the Chappaquiddick incident.

In July 1969, Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts, causing his car to overturn in Poucha Pond. Although the senator managed to swim free, his 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne died of suffocation after being trapped inside the vehicle.

Evert emphasized that she wouldn't vote for him over this incident, despite his and the Democratic Party's apparent belief that the public would simply forget about it.

"Oh, I'd never vote for him for President. That incident at Chappaquiddick just seems funny to me. Maybe they think that people will forget something like that, but they won't," she said.

Meanwhile, her father Jimmy revealed that despite being a Democrat, he would vote for the incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon in the election.

"I guess you can say I'm for Nixon. Even though I'm a Democrat, and I'll always be a Democrat, I tend to agree with what he's doing. You can't please everybody," he said.

Despite being favored to win the Democratic nomination, Ted Kennedy announced his decision not to run. South Dakota Senator George McGovern secured the nomination instead.

President Nixon went on to defeat McGovern in the 1972 election, claiming 60.7% of the popular vote and carrying 49 states to secure a second term as president.

A brief look at Chris Evert's 1972 tennis season

Chris Evert At Wimbledon
Chris Evert At Wimbledon

Against the backdrop of the 1972 US presidential election, Chris Evert enjoyed a very successful season on tour. She kicked off the year by triumphing at the Virginia Slims of Fort Lauderdale, beating Billie Jean King 6-1, 6-0 in the final.

After losing back-to-back finals to Nancy Richey in San Juan and St. Petersburg, the American triumphed on grass at the Queen's Club Championships. She also delivered a strong performance on her Wimbledon debut, reaching the semifinals before falling to Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Evert avenged her loss to Goolagong Cawley in the Indianapolis final, claiming a 7-6(2), 6-1 victory. The American then made a run to the semifinals of the US Open, where she suffered a 6-4, 6-2 loss to eventual runner-up Kerry Melville.

Chris Evert finished the season strong, clinching her fourth title of 1972 at the year-end Virginia Slims Championships by beating Kerry Melville 7-5, 6-4 in the final.

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Edited by Urvi Mehra
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