American tennis legend Chris Evert believes that the achievements of female athletes like Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf are not recognized as much as those of their male counterparts such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Earlier this year, Novak Djokovic had stated that his rivalry with Rafael Nadal was the biggest in the history of the sport. Nadal and Djokovic have so far met 56 times on the tour, which is the record in men's tennis.
However, that number is a far cry from the head-to-head between Evert and Martina Navratilova, who met a staggering 80 times on the tour during their illustrious careers.
Evert had taken to social media at the time to point out the discrepancy in Djokovic's comment about his rivalry with Rafael Nadal.
Now in an interview with Tennis Majors, Evert highlighted the broader point she wanted to make about the lack of recognition for female athletes across sports. The 18-time Slam champion believes that the feats of Navratilova and Graf deserve to be talked about in the same breath as Rafael Nadal's 13 French Open wins.
"I think I get more sensitive also about the fact that Martina’s won Wimbledon nine times and nobody really talks about that," Evert said. "Rafael Nadal has won the French Open, how many times, 13? Has anybody won a Grand Slam more than nine times? Once in a while (Navratilova’s record) will show up at Wimbledon. But it’s like, God… I mean, I think my claycourt (Roland-Garros) winning seven gets more publicity than her nine Wimbledons. So I’m like: why don’t we celebrate that?"
"And what about Steffi (Graf), and the Golden Slam (in 1988)? I mean, Olympics and four Grand Slams. If a man had done that, it would be mentioned all the time. Nobody ever mentions that," the American added.
It’s nothing personal against Novak Djokovic at all: Chris Evert
Chris Evert's tweet about the Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic rivalry had created quite a stir in the tennis community. In fact, many Djokovic fans had even claimed Evert had some kind of an agenda against the World No. 1.
But during the recent interview Evert clarified that she doesn't have any personal vendetta against Novak Djokovic, and that she is only trying to give women's tennis the attention it deserves.
"We're still fighting for recognition as athletes," Evert said. "It carries over to life, carries over to the work force. It goes back 50 years ago, there were only men athletes out there (as a majority), only men participated in sport. I think (it's) that stigma of 'women need a voice'."
"I think that it’s gotten so much better but it’s still hanging in the air, (the idea that) men are still the stronger sex," the American added. "Male athletes are still more popular than females. Trust me, I’m not on a vendetta against Novak Djokovic. I'm horrified that he might even think that. It’s nothing personal against Novak at all. It was just the principle of: if you’re going to say that, say it’s the greatest rivalry in men’s tennis. It’s really simple."Published 21 Dec 2020, 22:40 IST