It does sound as if Evert was starting to feel really liberated from tennis in a way circa this period. The description of how she shut herself away for days in a hotel room after losing to Wade in 77 seems so over the top and destructive to her psyche. Lloyd must have been good for her in a way. And if you look at her form in early 79it is as if she really needed to take a step back from the intensity of greatness and recharge her batteries.
she had sacrificed everything, including her childhood - which she has mentioned often, for tennis, and then got couped up alone, as those at the top always are. it was very unpleasant, if you consider the nature of the girl we now see -- a very very social girl!!! meeting lloyd and finding happiness there opened her up to a flood of questions and ponderables that would have been very distracting to say the least. as i've said, austin in fact was a mirror of the all-tennis fierce competitor she had been and wondering how much of that person was still in her...or even how much she wanted her to be in her! she still wasn't sure...
but after a year or so, i think she adjusted and realized tennis was just another outlet for her, and she could play to challenge herself instead of play to just maintain being #1.