Perry-Evert a match
Published December 19, 2004
It was Valentine's Day, the perfect day to propose marriage, and so Drew Evert, eldest of the five children of South Florida's first parents of tennis, escorted the woman of his dreams to a small park off Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach and began his pitch.
"He was saying all the right things," said Penny Perry. "Very romantic. And I kept thinking to myself, Come on, Drew. Just say it."
He did. They will, on Feb. 26, at St. Margaret's Church in the quaint East Sussex village of Rottingdean, followed by a two-hour drive up to Wimbledon, where there will be blessings delivered next to the statue of Penny's father, the great Fred Perry -- last British man to win Wimbledon, 69 years ago.
It will be a third marriage for each and, with Drew 51 and Penny 46, the chances of producing brilliant little Perry-Everts to dominate tennis seem somewhere between remote and non-existent.
But what great offspring they could have had, had they met 25 years ago. Who can say that they would not have been better than the much-anticipated careers of the children of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.
"Oh, we've joked about it," Perry said. "We thought it would interesting."
Fred Perry, who was the first man to win all four Grand Slam titles -- though not in the same year -- had made Boca Raton his permanent residence following World War II and became great friends of Jimmy and Colette Evert and later, of course, Chrissie and the rest of the Evert children.
Penny and Drew met three years ago playing a mixed doubles social at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and didn't see each other again until November of last year, when Drew was roped into another mixed doubles group when one of the players injured his shoulder.
"It was great fun. We had a real ball and he called me the next day and asked me if I fancied having dinner with him," Perry said. "Within 48 hours of having dinner with him, I announced, `I've just met the man I'm going to marry.'"
It's taken a year to move these two from engagement to marriage, but it sounds like it's going to be memorable.
"It will be an old-fashioned country wedding in a church with cobbled walls and flintstone. I just think this is phenomenal," said Perry. "It's like two tennis playing names colliding, both of whom are relevant to Wimbledon."
Fred Perry was 50 old when his daughter was born, so the only view she had of her father's great moments has been on old BBC films.
"It's like going into a time warp, isn't it?" she said. "But he looked terribly elegant in long white pants.
"My father, aside from being a great player, was a total comedian. There was the night he and Stirling Moss, the race car driver, and the wives were going to a black-tie function. "Food's lousy," my father said on the way home.
And then the chauffeured car stopped at a corner at 2 a.m. where there was a fish and chips shop open. "Fred and Stirling looked at each other and the wives said, `Don't you even think about it.'
"They got out of the car in their black ties and formal wear and came back with fish and chips."
Penny Perry is just about as uncomplicated as her father. The engagement ring is a three-stone sapphire diamond. "I'm not the ostentatious type," she said. "I like things simple and classy."
Sounds very much like the Everts.
Roger Federer, who went coachless in 2004 after dismissing Peter Lundgren at the end of 2003, plans to have a coach in 2005, but only if he can get the man he wants. His first choice was Darren Cahill, but Cahill will continue coaching Agassi next season. His second choice is Tony Roche, the great Aussie left-hander and volley technician. But at 59 Roche may not be eager for 34 to 36 weeks of travel. ...
Alex Bogomolov, the 21-year-old from south Miami, was quietly married to onetime tennis glamour player Ashley Harkleroad in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Dec. 4. They'll live in Georgia.
It was a marriage they were intent on since early in the year, though many advised them they were too young and that it would hold back their tennis careers. That won't be a problem for Harkleroad, 19. She has quit the WTA Tour.