"Had their breasts showing, my eyes were like saucers" - Chris Evert recalls Philippe Chatrier taking her & her mom to burlesque club amid French Open

Chris Evert with her mother Colette (Source: Getty; Chris Evert/Instagram)
Chris Evert with her mother Colette (Source: Getty; Chris Evert/Instagram)

Chris Evert recently reminisced about her first trip to Paris for her debut at the French Open. The American looked back on her astounding experience with her mother Colette at a burlesque club, courtesy of Philippe Chatrier, president of the French Tennis Federation at the time.

At just 18 years of age, Evert made her tournament debut at the 1973 French Open, entering the draw as the second seed.

Beyond the excitement of her debut, an unforgettable memory that has lingered in the American's mind is her bewilderment over Chatrier whisking her and her mother off to Le Lido, the renowned burlesque theater on the Champs-Elysees.

In an interview with The New York Times, the former World No. 1 disclosed that she was left shocked at the sight of the "half-naked" women at the club, emphasizing that she had never seen anything quite as sophisticated before.

"He took us to dinner, and it was a dance club with half-naked women. They had their breasts showing. My eyes were like saucers. I had never been exposed to anything so sophisticated like that," Chris Evert said.

Chris Evert also reflected on her on-court experience at Roland Garros, finishing as the runner-up to Margaret Court after a narrow 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-4 loss in the final. The 18-time Grand Slam champion admitted that she lacked "killer instinct" and intensity in the title clash.

"I just didn’t have that intense feeling. Everyone thinks I had that killer instinct like I did in the juniors with the girls my own age. But when I got to the women’s tournament, for some reason I was just more relaxed, and I felt like I had time on my side. I didn’t have the fervor to win that match," she said.

Chris Evert on winning maiden Grand Slam title at French Open 1974: "I was a different person... I was mentally tougher"

Chris Evert with the French Open trophy
Chris Evert with the French Open trophy

Chris Evert was a "different person" when she returned to the French Open in 1974, entering the Major as the top seed. The American delivered a dominant campaign, beating Olga Morozova 6-1, 6-2 in the final to clinch her maiden Grand Slam title.

In the same interview, the 18-time Major champion disclosed that she had learned from her experience of losing in the final the year prior, crediting her "tougher" mentality for allowing her to pull off the win.

"I was a different person. I had the experience of the year before, of letting it slip away, of not closing it out like I should have, and I learned from that. I was mentally tougher, and I knew that if I had that opportunity again, to close out the match and win a Slam, I was going to do it," she said.

Chris Evert's triumph at the 1974 French Open marked the first of her record seven titles at the claycourt Major. As current World No. 1 Iga Swiatek pursues her fourth Roland Garros title at this year's event, Evert has expressed confidence in the Pole's ability to surpass her record.

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Edited by Urvi Mehra
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