Chris Evert: "I just wish I had been a little tougher."
Some interesting Evert comments:
"When have No. 1 and No. 2 been so close for so long in any sport as Martina and I were? We have an incredible bond. I trust her more than any other player, and she's the most compassionate, giving person I know. After my losses she always calls --overseas, if we're in the same hotel, whatever. She searches me out. She calls when I have a big win too -- or if I have to play Steffi again the next day.
Believe me, I've (also) been critical of Martina. For a while -- when Nancy Lieberman was Martina's trainer and plotting her Kill Chris strategy back in the early 80's -- we didn't get along, but we got through that. Then there was my loss to her in the 1988 Wimbledon finals [note: should be semi-finals]. The linesman didn't call my shot out until Martina glared at him. I know it; I'll always believe it. I was mad at her for a couple of weeks. Then I told myself, Hey, it isn't worth ruining the friendship, and we were back together."
"Finally I can't avoid some regrets. I wish I had pushed myself more to learn to serve and volley. I wish I hadn't been so committed to Team Tennis in the mid-'70s and had played the French Open instead. I probably cost myself three French championships and maybe the Grand Slam in 1976, when I won Wimbledon and the US Open and dominated all year. I feel sure I would have won Paris that summer, and with three titles in the bag, I would have played the Australian open to try for the Slam, even if it meant spending Christmas away from home.
Speaking of Wimbledon, that's the bugaboo. I won it three times, in '74, '76 and '81. But I should have won it seven times. In 1975 I had Billie Jean down 3-0 in the third set in the semis, but I was going through some heavy stuff with Jimmy that year. When I looked up in the stands and saw him with Susan George, the actress, I freaked out. I just couldn't believe he would do that. I couldn't hit a ball after that and ended up losing the match. Billie Jean crushed Evonne Goolagong Cawley 6-0 6-1 in the final.
In 1977 I had Virginia Wade beaten in the semis. I was a much better player, but I let the crowd, which was rooting for Virginia because she's English, get to me. She won 6-1 in the third and then beat Betty Stove in the finals.
In 1978 I had Martina down 4-2, 40-15 in the third set in the finals, but I had met John that year. I was thinking of him on every point, I wasn't focused, and I let another golden opportunity slip away because of a relationship. Looking back, I'd rather be in love any day, but that's twice love cost me Wimbledon. I just wish I had been a little tougher.
In the semis in 1980 I finally beat Martina at Wimbledon. But I celebrated so much that the next day I was in a fog against Evonne and lost 6-1 7-6..."(from Sports Illustrated 08/28/89)