Chris Evert: Tennis queen in the 1970s, ‘80s
Chris Evert holds the record of an 89.97% victory percentage – the highest in singles (among men & women) – during the sport’s Open Era.
Counted among the greatest tennis players , this winner of 18 Grand Slams titles has been ranked an all-time fifth best performer in women’s singles. She holds the record of an 89.97% victory percentage – the highest in singles (among men & women) – during the sport’s Open Era. She also topped the Women Tennis Association year-ending rankings several times.
Born on December 21, 1954 to tennis coach Jimmy Evert and Colette in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (US), Christine Marie Evert began learning tennis aged 5 from her father Jimmy Evert, who was a professional tennis coach at a facility named Holiday Park, which was eventually renamed after him. Having grown up with sisters Jeanne and Clare as well as brothers John and Drew, she graduated from the St Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale in 1973. Thanks to the coaching imparted by their father, all the five children in the Evert family shone in the sport, went on to win the National Junior Championship and to attain scholarships at several universities. Apart from the role played by their father in inculcating a love for tennis and imparting quality coaching, each of them honed their immense abilities and competitive spirit by playing each other.
On To The Circuit
In 1967, Evert won the women’s singles at the Orange Bowl in Florida. By 1969, she achieved the top rank nationally in the under-14 category. In the 1971 US Open, Evert made her Grand Slam debut with a first round win in straight sets against Edda Buding of Germany. She made it to the semi-finals wherein she went down to Billie Jean King.
In The Big League
Evert won consecutive Grand Slam titles from 1974 to 1978 and again from 1980 to 1981. In 1974, Evert registered her first major title wins at the French Open and Wimbledon – both of which she annexed by vanquishing fellow-finalist Olga Morozova of Russia. Over the next 11 years (1975 to 1986), she amassed 16 more Grand Slam singles’ titles, including the French Open in 1975, ’79, ’80, ’83, ’85 & ’86; US Open in 1975, ’76, ’77, ’78, ’80 and ’82; Wimbledon in 1976 and ’81; as well as the Australian Open in 1982 and ’84.
Following a relatively poor run between 1987 and ‘89, when she struggled to reach the semi-finals and finals of majors, she decided to retire from professional tennis. Her lifetime tally of Grand Slam titles had grown to 21, which included 18 (singles) and 3 (doubles).
In 1996, she joined her brother to launch the Evert Tennis Academy in Florida. She also began publishing the magazine Tennis, to which she contributes as a writer. In 2011, she worked as a commentator at ESPN.
The magazine Sports Illustrated chose Evert as the recipient of the Sportsman of the Year in 1976. It was one of only four instances when tennis players – the others being Billie Jean King (1972), Arthur Ashe (1992) and Serena Williams (2015) , were given the honour.
In 1985, the Women’s Sports Foundation named her as the Greatest Woman Athlete of the Last 25 Years. And in 1995, Evert was unanimously elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 2005, the magazine Tennis named her fourth on its list of 40 Greatest Players of the Tennis Era.
When Chris Evert first arrived at Wimbledon as a schoolgirl in 1972, the English press dubbed her as ‘The Ice Princess’ and ‘Ice Maiden’. While those terms projected her as a cold and heartless player, once she rose to be the world’s numero uno female tennis star, tennis aficianados began looking up to her as Cool Chris.’
In 1976, Evert became the first tennis player to reach the $1 million mark in career prize money. That figure did not take into consideration the fact that before 1973, when she was an amateur player during the stage when she was in school, Evert chose to forego her earnings.
Apart from her shining career in the sport, Evert also served as the president of the Women’s Tennis Association from 1975 to 1976 and again from 1983 to 1991.