How do you become a world-class tennis player? It helps if your dad is a tennis pro. And if you’re on the courts constantly from age 5. And if you have talented brothers and sisters to play against. And if you have the strongest will ever seen in women’s tennis. At least, that’s how Chris Evert did it.
Chris’s career singles record is 1,309-146 (.900). No professional, male or female has been better. She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including a record seven French Open titles.
And while we’re talking statistics, here are some more amazing ones. Chris reached the semifinals in 273 of the 303 tournaments she entered. That’s mental toughness. And she won at least one Grand Slam title for 13 consecutive years. That’s freakish physical skill.
When she was a very young player, her father taught her to swing her backhand using both hands, which he intended as a way for her to compensate until she was older and stronger. Chris, however, never relinquished the stroke. She turned everyone’s head when she began using it on the professional circuit, and now a vast majority of women players use it, thanks to her.
Chris has been married three times, all to athletes. Her first husband was tennis pro John Lloyd, her second was Olympic downhill skier Andy Mill, and last year she tied the knot with Australian golfer Greg Norman.
Tom Friend of the Washington Post summed up Chris Evert’s appeal best. “Chrissie was a beautiful woman playing a beautiful sport in a beautiful way, and that’s why America fell in love with her.”
There are lots of long videos on YouTube of Chris competing against the best players of her generation, but this one point with Monica Seles is entertaining: