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post #2371 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2014, 01:16 AM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Thanks for these articles Daze

This quote was the highlight from the Athletics Quarterly article:

With all that youíve accomplished, is there one achievement that you are most proud of?
Iím proud of a lot of things (laughs). I donít really talk about the stats stuff that much. I guess if thereís one thing Iím most proud of, itsí that I won over 90 percent of my matches. It was that consistency throughout my career. For 18 years, I was ranked in the top four. I never dropped to 13 or anything like that. I won 125 consecutive matches on clay. It was that consistency over a long period of time that Iím proud of.
Her consistency is the core of her record. And she's not being quite fair to herself with the 'Top four' remark. From 1974 to 1988 she was really never less than top-and arguably #1 for every year from 1974 to 1981.

Winning a slam every year for over 10 years was no mean feat either-and in those WTT years she only entered 2 slaams a year.
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post #2372 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2014, 01:18 AM
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Nice to see some of the 1974 final-and in color! Olga Morozova was fun to watch. Clearly outclassed on clay, at least she was trying different things against Chris.

Better than expected crowd too. The stands looked full.
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post #2373 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2014, 05:52 PM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

It should be noted that Chrissie has 10 GS titles on clay to Rafa's 9, as three of her U.S. Open titles were on the dirt and in two of those finals she beat Goolagong, who along with Navratilova I would consider of the equivalent caliber to the best players Rafa defeated.

That's what she said!!!
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post #2374 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 2014, 01:49 AM
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It should be noted that Chrissie has 10 GS titles on clay to Rafa's 9, as three of her U.S. Open titles were on the dirt and in two of those finals she beat Goolagong, who along with Navratilova I would consider of the equivalent caliber to the best players Rafa defeated.
Good point Pam. The 75 final vs Evonne was a corker-and the Gonger was the last person to beat Chris on clay in 1973, winning at Rome. After losing Paris and Rome she went unbeaten on clay until Austin got her at the Italian in 1979.

It's a pity Philippe Chatrier was such a jerk about WTT in 1974. He banned all WTT players, including Aussie winners Evonne and Jimmy Connors, who both wanted a chance at the Grand Slam. His ploy backfired. Instead of getting most of the world's top 10 women he lost them, and in 1976 Evert went over to the WTT.

IMO it cheated the event of some sparkling Evert-Goolagong finals.
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post #2375 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jul 4th, 2014, 05:04 PM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

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The San Diego Union
Wednesday, July 5, 1989
Barry Lorge

No matter what happens now in what is almost surely her last Wimbledon, Chris Evert, the regal queen of the courts, yesterday gave the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club a crown jewel of a comeback to remember her by.

A champion does not want to lose to a player she never heard of. Down 2-5 in the final set, six times two points from defeat at the hands of 21-year-old Italian Laura Golarsa, Evert hummed a backhand passing shot she long ago learned by heart. Refusing to let a quarterfinal against the 87th-ranked player on the women's tour be her Wimbledon swan song, she turned it into a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 showstopper.

This was Evert's 96th singles match at Wimbledon, breaking Billie Jean King's career record. It will go into the archives as one of the classic comebacks and unforgettable occasions.

Martina Navratilova was at courtside, cheering unabashedly for her old rival. Pam Shriver sat next to Evert's husband, former Olympic skier Andy Mill. Evert's parents watched prayerfully -- "lighting candles," said her mother, Colette, who has spent 17 summers with Chrissie at Wimbledon, through two marriages and passage from ponytailed Ice Maiden to Grande Dame of this grass stage.

The Court 1 stands were filled beyond their 8,000 capacity -- the standing-room section packed solid with human sardines, the aisles clogged with spellbound spectators. Someone ought to freeze frames of the film and preserve them forever in an album of gilt-edged English afternoons.

Shadows and screams grew as tension mounted in the late-afternoon sunlight. You could see the key question in Evert's subdued expression and body language, compelling as an unspoken scene in a Shakespearean play:

"I was wondering in the third set, 'Do I have enough in reserve to pull this match out?' because I have pulled so many matches out in my career, or was there nothing there?" Evert said. "Thank heavens for me, there is something there so that I could pull it out."

Golarsa was serving for the match at 5-3. Evert, hanging on by her manicured fingernails, hit two backhand winners to claw back from 30-0 to 30-all. Now Golarsa darted to the net and punched a firm, forceful forehand volley to Evert's backhand corner. Driven by desperation and the undefinable instinct that distinguishes champions, Evert ran down the ball outside the doubles alley. She reached back through those 17 summers -- 16 times in the semifinals, seven times runner-up, three titles -- and whistled a piercing two-handed pass down the line.

"That obviously was the biggest point in the match," said Evert, who won 13 of the next 18 to close it out. "That was the moment I was inspired ... Up until then, my attitude wasn't 'OK, I am going to win this match, I'm going to pull it out.' It was more like, 'I can't believe this is happening to me.' "

Golarsa, having watched a replay, sighed: "She played her best game when I was up. That is why she is Chris Evert ... Not so many players can play this shot in this moment."

It had been a strange match. Evert led, 6-3, 2-1, with a break. Golarsa won the next eight games and had a break point for 4-0 in the third.

The audience, which had cheered the bouncy Golarsa to make a memorable match, didn't really want her to beat the Floridian who first reached the semis in 1972 and asked innocently, "Do they celebrate the Fourth of July here?" It wasn't until much later, when she became vulnerable, that the British warmed to Chrissie and came to fully appreciate her remarkable record of making at least the singles semifinals in 52 of the 55 Grand Slam tournaments she has played. She has won seven French Opens, six U.S. Opens, two Australian Opens and three Wimbledon titles, but none since Paris in 1986.

"In the third set I thought, 'This isn't the way I would like to go out of the tournament,' " Evert said. "... It's almost like I didn't feel I deserved to lose that way, in the quarterfinals."

At the end, she raised her left arm in a gesture of joy and relief. The courtside clock clicked from 5:39 to 5:41 p.m. before the ovation subsided. Chris looked at her father, a public-parks pro from Fort Lauderdale who started all his five kids in tennis but usually stayed away from tournaments when Chris got to be good because he got so nervous, it wasn't good for his blood pressure.

"That was too much, wasn't it?" Jimmy Evert said. He and Colette were on their way to the Competitors' Tea Room when their son John, who is coordinating a family documentary being filmed here, intercepted them and said: "She'd like to see you."

The elder Everts pushed up the crowded down staircase, to the foyer outside the Ladies' Dressing Room. Chrissie was waiting, behind a sliding door of frosted glass that says: "Members Only."

Virginia Wade, the 1977 champion and the only female member of the Championships Committee, arrived. "Bloody hell, Chris," she exclaimed, cracking up the group. Evert gave her folks another hug and headed to the showers. Their feet hardly seemed to touch the steps as they descended the staircase.

"I was just so proud of her," Jimmy Evert said. "I thought how nice the moment was, particularly if it is her last year."

It matters not how Chris does in tomorrow's semifinals against Steffi Graf, an overwhelming favorite to defend her title. "Whatever happens now is icing on the cake for me," said Evert. "... Playing Steffi is the last thing from my mind right now. I'm thinking about the match I just played."

One for us to remember her by, forever.
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post #2376 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jul 4th, 2014, 05:05 PM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

As an old foe frets, Evert hangs on
St. Petersburg Times
Wednesday, July 5, 1989

WIMBLEDON, England - Martina Navratilova crouched in a tunnel, peeping out onto the Court One grass. Eight times Wimbledon champ, and a semifinalist again this year, she had come running from the locker room to witness history.

The passing of greatness.

Martina's old rival, and old pal, Chris Evert was plodding into the climactic moments of what a stunned Tuesday congregation was begrudingly beginning to accept as a painful Wimbledon goodbye of a 34-year-old tennis icon.

Chrissie was resigned.

She was down 5-3 against an unknown Italian in the decisive third set of their quarterfinal match. Laura Golarsa was serving, and commanding 30-love.

Navratilova grimaced.

Evert admitted thinking to herself, ''This isn't the way I'd like to go out of the tournament.'' She was pitifully crumbling against a kid ranked 87th in the world.

''I figured I deserved better,'' she would say. ''This would be a sickening way to end my 18 wonderful years at Wimbledon that have included three championships, and making 10 finals, and missing the semifinals just once.

''But it was happening.''

Golarsa was two points from punting Evert into tennis oblivion. Chris began slapping herself on the hip. Searching for motivation. Trying to rekindle self-belief.

The old scrapper socked a backhand down the line, maybe two inches inside the chalk. ''Whew!'' said Navratilova. Golarsa led 30-15. Then Evert hit another winner, and it was 30-all.

Hope was coming.

Navratilova, out of public view in the tunnel, clinched fists and gnawed her lower lip. Pulling hard. Her respect for Evert is no less warm than the sporting combat has been in their 80-match, 14-year rivalry.

Golarsa whacked one deep into the right corner. Tough chance for Evert. She galloped well wide of the court, making a true-grit stretch to blister a backhand winner past the Italian and just inside the line.

''Right there, I felt a surge of inspiration,'' Evert said later. ''Until then, my dominant thought was, 'This can't be happening to me.' But, with that backhand, I thought for the first time that I had a chance in the third set.''

Evert broke Golarsa's serve. Soon it was 5-5 in the live-or-die set. This wasn't Centre Court, but an overflow crowd of 4,500 was screeching and stomping. They knew this adjacent Wimbledon stage had now become the Fourth of July place to be.

Golarsa had become bug-eyed and inefficient. Evert took five straight games. From 2-5, in one of the more remarkable comebacks in a quite extraordinary career, Evert won 7-5 to move into one more Wimbledon semifinal.

''That's just great,'' Navratilova said. ''I was shaking with nerves when Chris scratched back into the match. What guts she has. I went down to Court One, thinking I might be seeing The End. But the Chris Evert story continues, and I couldn't be happier. I'd love to play her just one more time, in the finals.''

Evert's next opponent will not be an unknown like Laura Golarsa. She is top-seeded, No.1-ranked defending champion Steffi Graf .

''Right now, Steffi's the farthest thing from my mind,'' Evert said in a bubbly post-match interview. ''Coming back to win this quarterfinal makes this Wimbledon for me.

''I now know I can walk out of here feeling great pride and satisfaction. The possibility of a bad taste has disappeared.''

A reporter from India asked Evert something I'd wondered about. It's the way Wimbledon scoreboards list her name, as ''Mrs. C.M. Evert.'' She can be Miss Evert, or Ms. Evert, or Mrs. Andy Mill, but she cannot be Mrs. C.M. Evert.

Chris tried to explain.

''Well, I am married now, so that makes me a Mrs.,'' she said. ''My maiden name is Evert, and since I've remarried (after divorcing John Lloyd), I didn't want 500 different names scrawled across scoreboards.''

Okay, if that's her wish.

When Golarsa was being questioned about her 11th-hour failings, she tried to pay homage to her famous conqueror, saying, ''Making shots like that, when it counts most, well, that's why she is Chris Evert Lloyd.''

Say who?

Anyway, it was a gem.
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post #2377 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jul 4th, 2014, 05:07 PM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Wednesday, July 5, 1989
JIM SARNI, Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- Laura Golarsa angled the volley sharply into the corner, and for a brief instant, the thought must have flashed across her mind:

''Match point. I have match point against Chris Evert at Wimbledon.''

And, as the thought started to sink in, Evert was racing across the baseline for the ball.

Somehow, she got there.

Somehow, she got her racket on it.

Somehow, she got it back for a winner.

The ball exploded like a firecracker, down the line, and an American champion was saved on July 4.

Instead of match point, it was break point. Instead of losing to Golarsa, Evert would beat the upstart Italian 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 and gain the semifinals at Wimbledon for the 17th time in 18 years.

Defending champion Steffi Graf , eight-time champion Martina Navratilova and unseeded Catarina Lindqvist joined Evert in the final four.

Graf demolished Arantxa Sanchez 7-5, 6-1 in their French Open rematch, Navratilova routed Gretchen Magers 6-1, 6-2, and Lindqvist topped Ros Fairbank 7-5, 7-5.

For Evert, a sorrowful Wimbledon farewell was transformed into a magnificent victory she will cherish forever.

Evert doesn't have to win a game against Steffi Graf in the semifinals Thursday. Evert's final Wimbledon was defined by her courageous comeback on Court 1 Tuesday. She can walk out of the All-England Club with her head held high.

''I felt really disappointed in the third set,'' Evert said. ''I felt like I did not deserve to lose that way in the quarterfinals. This is probably my last Wimbledon and this was not the way I wanted to go out.''

Evert had fallen to Monica Seles in Houston; to Barbara Paulus in Geneva; to Laura Golarsa at Wimbledon would have been worse.

Evert led 6-3, 2-1, up a break, to the 87th-ranked Golarsa. Everything was in control, then everything went out of control.

Golarsa, 21, an orthodox serve-and-volleyer, won eight games in a row, gaining more confidence with every winning shot.

Evert was down 0-3 in the final set. She saved a break point or it would have been 0-4.

Then Golarsa led 5-2. Evert held at deuce.

Golarsa served for the match. Evert made two forehand errors and it was 30- love.

Evert has hit a million backhand winners across the ages. She squeezed her racquet with both hands, and hit one more return down the line. She blasted another down the line and it was 30-all.

Golarsa charged again, and Evert chased the ball into the stands.

''I hit a great volley and she hit an unbelievable passing shot from outside the court,'' Golarsa said.

''That's why she's Chris Evert.''

Said Evert: ''It was the biggest point of the match.'' ''I was inspired after that. My attitude had been not that I'm going to pull this match out, but 'I can't believe this is happening to me'. After that crucial backhand, one more game and the match would be five-all. It would be even.''

Evert hit a forehand long to go back to deuce, but Golarsa missed two backhands to lose her service game.

Evert held for 6-5 at deuce, for the fourth time in the set. Golarsa was two points away from the match for the fourth time. It was as tantalizingly close as she would get to becoming the first woman from her country to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.

Evert jumped out love-40 on Golarsa's serve and broke at 30. Evert served out the match at love, smashing a forehand down the middle to end her one hour and 49-minute ordeal.

The Court 1 crowd, which included Evert's husband Andy Mill, her parents, her brother John, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, saluted the three-time champion with a vigorous standing ovation.

''She won the match,'' said Golarsa. ''The top players play their best games at the most important times. With Evert, a match is never over. Even at match point.''

''I won with winners,'' Evert said. ''The last four games was the best tennis I played in the tournament. I don't think she choked. I won the match. Maybe I earned it a little bit.''

Evert's greatest comeback had been the famous escape from Nancy Richey, who had Evert 7-6, 5-0, 40-15 at the 1975 U.S. Clay Courts in Indianapolis.

But this is Wimbledon, and this was a match so much like the time in 1973, when Evert blew a 6-3, 3-2 lead to Janet Young, another unknown, in the round of 16. Young led 4-0 in the third set, before Evert recovered to take the set 8-6. That year, Evert reached her first final.

Evert would have to beat Graf to play her last Wimbledon final, but Evert did not want to think about that Tuesday.

On this beautiful English day, Evert set a record with her 96th Wimbledon victory. She's the all-time champ, for now, and she did it with one of the all-time saves.

''Ten years ago, I would never have let a match like that slip away,'' Evert said. ''I let her in and I was pretty lucky to win. I've pulled so many matches out in my career, and I was wondering if I had that ability in reserve today. Or was there nothing there. Thank heaven, there was something there.''

-- Ken Flach and Robert Seguso rallied to defeat Guillaume Raoux and Eric Winogradsky 6-7 (7-3), 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, the second successive five-set comeback for the two-time defending doubled champions ... McEnroe and Jakob Hlasek outlasted Mike DePalmer and Gary Donnelly 6-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 10-8 to reach the quarterfinals ... Jennifer Capriati of Lauderhill routed Jacqui Gunthrop 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round of the juniors.
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post #2378 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jul 4th, 2014, 05:11 PM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

New York Daily News
Wednesday, July 5, 1989

WIMBLEDON, England -- It was late in the day, the sun was beginning to set over Wimbledon and Chris Evert seemed to have crossed into the twilight zone. She was out on Court One against a 22-year-old Italian named Laura Golarsa, and a long Wimbledon life was flashing before her eyes.

''I thought that this wasn't the way to go out, if this would be my last year, which it probably would,'' she would say much later. ''I felt really disappointed. I felt I didn't deserve to lose this way in the quarterfinals.''

Lose this way? It was more than that. It was more about a dying champion getting a proper burial. On Centre Court, not out here, not in this round, not against the third-ranked Laura in northern Italy, not when there was a chance for Steffi Graf and the semifinals and one final Centre Court fling.

Over on Centre Court, Graf had just finished with the French Open champion, Arantxa Sanchez, who is 17, which means she was born the year Chris Evert first played the All England Club. For all but one of her 17 Wimbledon years (1983, when she was ill and lost in the third round), Evert had been a semifinalist, had been to the Final Four.

Now, the year she acknowledged should be her last, her 34-year-old legs were telling her, no, she couldn't have tomorrow, she had to go now.

''I was thinking,'' she said, '''Why is this happening to me?'''

Sometime about the middle of the match, it had suddenly turned into what looked to be this bitter farewell. Evert had the first set 6-3. She got an early break in the second to lead 2-1. She said her concentration began to wander, but the truth was that the body just became less willing. Those legs just picked up and walked off by themselves.

From a break in the fourth game followed by another in the sixth, Golarsa took the net and turned Evert into scrambled legs with a variety of winding serves and well-angled volleys. Golarsa won the last five games of the second set, the first three of the third. She was the first Italian woman to reach the Wimbledon quarters since 1933, and her side of the family-and-friends box was tasting more.

''Andiamo,'' they shouted, and ''Dai, Laura,'' and they stood and cheered as the games rolled by, and Evert's chin began to sink closer to the grass.

Her parents, Jimmy and Collette, were a few seats down the row. Her husband, Andy Mill, was sitting with Pam Shriver. Between the parents and Shriver were Martina Navratilova and her companion, Judy Nelson. Shriver and Navratilova, a great old doubles team, had come to pull a good friend through to tomorrow. Or at least -- history buffs these veterans tend to be -- witness her Wimbledon closer, if it simply had to be.

Finally, in the fourth game, Evert held her serve for 3-1. Golarsa still showed no sign of letting up on her serve. At 30-15, she hit a forehand volley deep into the right corner. Evert, chasing, gave out a mighty grunt. Her return went over the net, but about 10 feet wide. She pulled up right in front of the family box. The racket hung from her right hand and her eyes searched the grass.

By now, the crowd had stopped applauding the point. There was quiet for a moment, and then, from the box, came a voice.

''C'mon, Chrissie,'' Martina said. Evert never looked, never heard.

The score went to 4-1, then 4-2, then 5-2, then 5-3, Golarsa about to serve for the match. Evert, waiting to receive, said she remembered asking herself, ''Do you have that reserve? Do you have what it takes to pull it out?''

She suspected the answer was that she did not. She talked about once coming back in a match against Nancy Richey after trailing 7-6, 5-0, 40-15. How many years ago? She didn't know. It was part of another tennis life, when the legs had the spring she so sorely needed now.

Golarsa won the first point at 5-3, and the second. At 30-0, Evert hit a backhand winner off a first serve. At 30-15, another routine backhand pass, 30-all.

Golarsa paused to look across the net. ''Dai, Laura,'' the voice from the family box pleaded. ''Go, Laura.''

The first serve was true. Evert sent back a forehand. Golarsa volleyed into the left corner. Evert was on the run, the 34-year-old legs running for the ball, for the semifinals, for Centre Court.

The backhand went straight down the line. Golarsa was not there. Evert had break point. She had life.

''The crucial point,'' she would call it. ''She had me wide. That was the moment I was inspired.''

And so it was a moment later -- following a wide Golarsa forehand volley for the break -- that the Everts and Mill and Martina leaped from their seats, and the sun seemed to jump back into the sky, and one of the Italians in the box sadly said -- English this time -- ''You only get one chance.''

Golarsa's had gone. She would say, ''I don't think I lost it; I think she played unbelievable after 5-3, 30-all.''

Evert would say that, too, after she held at her serve from deuce, broke Golarsa at 30 and then served out the match at love, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

In the box, the husband Mill jumped up to kiss the mother and shake the father's hand. There were hugs all around. There were tears in Collette Evert's eyes. Martina and Shriver were on their feet, smiling, victory fists clenched. There would be tomorrow on Centre Court, the semifinals, if nothing more than a proper burial against Steffi Graf .

Evert moved toward the net to make it official. She took Golarsa's hand. They turned to walk off. Finally, she turned to meet the eyes in the family box. She sent them the smile of a child just given the best present in the world.
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post #2379 of 2545 (permalink) Old Jul 4th, 2014, 05:13 PM
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Wednesday, July 5, 1989

WIMBLEDON, England - It was a spectacular performance from Chris Evert's past, out of the time when her pigtails were tied with pink ribbons. If Evert did not exactly play the match of her life, at least she made a vintage comeback that may forever be linked with Wimbledon, like strawberries and cream.

Evert trailed 2-5 in the third set to unheralded Laura Golarsa of Italy yesterday in a match that appeared to signal Evert's farewell at Wimbledon after 18 years.

But Evert won.

``I was thinking, `This isn't the way I would like to go out,' certainly if it would be my last year here, which it probably would be,'' Evert said. ``I felt really disappointed . . . that I didn't deserve to lose that way, in the quarterfinals. I was thinking maybe I'd earned the right to win after all these years.''

Evert, 34, who owns three Wimbledon titles, reached back to the era when she was known as the Ice Maiden, kept her cool and rallied for a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory that she barely believed herself.

Evert is beloved by the English for the gentle behavior she has exhibited during her tennis career. Only once has she failed to advance to the semifinals - in 1983, when she was upset by Kathy Jordan in the third round - and of all the tournaments, Wimbledon holds a special place in her heart. ``Even during the match, I was thinking about all that,'' she said.

Her retirement at the end of this year is a foregone conclusion.

So while No. 2-seeded Martina Navratilova will play Catarina Lindqvist in the semifinals tomorrow, No. 4 Evert will take on No. 1 Steffi Graf , the matchup the sentimental crowds have longed for throughout the fortnight. The fans even have surrendered their usual reserve.

They pleaded with and shouted to Evert, and generously applauded even her easiest points. Once, a voice boomed from the seats at Court 1, ``Andiamo, Chris.'' It was Italian for ``Let's go,'' and it must have been especially unnerving to Golarsa, who was born and raised in Milan.

Yet, not even the American flag that was waved by a particularly boisterous group of spectators during the third set appeared to be of much help. Neither did the audible encouragement of Navratilova, a courtside spectator and longtime friend, who begged, ``C'mon, Chris,'' to resounding cheers.

Golarsa broke Evert in the second game, held serve and quickly was up, 3-0. Evert struggled to save a break point in the fourth game before finally winning.

Serving at 2-5, Evert double-faulted to 15-15, and four points after that netted a backhand, falling to deuce. The 87th-ranked Golarsa, 21, who never has reached a Grand Slam semifinal, was two consecutive points from completing a staggering upset.

``I thought I was going to lose the match,'' Evert said. ``My attitide wasn't, `OK, I am going to win this match.' It was more like, `I can't believe this is happening.' I was wondering if I had that reserve - `Can I pull this out?' ''

The answer arrived when Golarsa floated a service return long and slammed a backhand wide to lose the game. In the next game, Evert made the shot champions make and challengers remember as the turning point.

Golarsa, ahead 5-3, was serving at 30-0 - again two straight points away from winning - before Evert nailed a backhand service return and followed with a backhand passing shot.

At 30-30, Golarsa angled a delicate backhand volley that carried Evert into the doubles alley. She lunged for the ball, whipping a running backhand that scooted past Golarsa and down the line. Evert, as usual, didn't betray even the hint of a smile; but inside, she was brewing.

``That,'' Evert said, ``was the moment that I was inspired.''

Said Golarsa: ``She was way outside the court and she still played it on the line. Not many players can make that shot at that moment.''

When Golarsa volleyed long on the next point, Evert had her break and the second in her string of five straight games. She held serve after falling to deuce, broke Golarsa with a forehand passing shot for a 6-5 lead and, in a blink, won the first three points on her serve.

And all the time, she never so much as stopped to soak in the ovation that slowly was building.

She trained herself to play until the last stroke and nothing less, until it became her trademark. So at match point, Evert hit a forehand volley. Golarsa replied with a backhand volley but froze, and Evert pounded a forehand off Golarsa's foot for the win.
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Evert refuses to say cheerio just yet
Wednesday, July 5, 1989
Tom Weir

WIMBLEDON, England - Even while forging the epic comeback she so richly deserves in what likely will be her final Wimbledon, Chris Evert didn't dare to believe it could happen.

Play as many Wimbledons as Evert has, and there's little reason to believe any woman can make a third-set comeback from 5-2 down.

It just doesn't happen. Not even for the All-America girl on the Fourth of July.

That much Evert could deal with. The painful part was the opponent wasn't Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova or someone else worthy of tossing her from Wimbledon's storied stage.

It was Laura Golarsa, ranked 87th in the world and only 21, who was on the other side of the net in Tuesday's quarterfinal.

``I thought this isn't the way I want to go out of the tournament, if this is my last year, which it probably would be,'' Evert said. ``It's almost like I felt I didn't deserve to lose that way.''

A few minutes before, she had looked into the stands to her father, Jimmy.

``At 3-0 I looked over at my dad and he gave me the fist,'' she said. ``And he never does things like that. He's passive. I felt like crying.''

But even that inspiration and some cheerleading from two other members of the old guard, Navratilova and Pam Shriver, hadn't helped.

Evert had won the first set 6-3, but then looked utterly lost while dropping the second 2-6.

She had managed to hold serve for 5-3 in the third set, but then Golarsa immediately went up 30-love. Match point seemed imminent.

``I never was confident in the third set, especially at that point,'' she would say later.

``At 4-1 you can have a little hope, but when it's 5-2 or 5-3 ... At that point I didn't know what to do. I certainly didn't think I was going to win the match.''

With the BBC camera focused on Golarsa, commentator John Barrett's voice sounded like a death knell.

``Two points from glory,'' he said of Golarsa.

But those next two points belonged to Evert - a backhand return of serve that kissed the line, and an inside-out, backhand passing shot that Golarsa could only wave at.

Evert didn't remember those shots, but the next majestic point had scorched a permanent memory.

``I remember that was crucial, because it was a running backhand, and it was such an accurate shot,'' Evert said of the return she ripped back while dashing offcourt.

It flew in from behind the net post, gave Evert a 30-40 lead, and was the stuff of a legend's last chapter.

``With Evert, it is never over,'' understated Golarsa.

Evert then claimed the game when Golarsa went wide with a volley, and also took every game after that for the stunning 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory that set up a Thursday semifinal against Graf.

But even after those three brilliant shots, her thought was, ``I can't believe this is happening to me.''

There was no mistaking the gratitude in Evert's voice.

``I think if this was 10 years ago, I never would have let a match slip away like I did today,'' Evert said. ``I was wondering if I had that reserve.''

Tennis rarely has heard words from a doubt-filled Evert, but so it goes at a time when the sport seems scripted for Seventeen magazine.

But Evert appears comfortably and thoroughly in touch with what it means to be a 34-year-old these days.

``I'm a better player now than I was at 19, no question,'' she had said Monday. ``But I may never win Wimbledon again.''

She still hasn't made an absolute commitment to this being her last Wimbledon, but less and less doubt remains.

``It looks like this is it,'' she said. ``I don't know how much more I can squeeze out of myself.''

But having squeezed out this vintage Evert that was amazingly good to the last drop, it hardly matters.
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Evert labours to make a point - Tennis
The Times
London, England
Wednesday, July 5, 1989
David Powell

Chris Evert was spared an ignominious defeat for the first time in her 18 successive Wimbledon singles championships when she recovered from 5-2 down in the deciding set of her women's singles quarter-final against Laura Golarsa, an Italian ranked 87th in the world, yesterday.

Evert has only once been eliminated before the semi-finals but was two points from losing on four occasions. She recovered to win 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

Had Golarsa, aged 21, won she would have been the lowest ranked woman in the open era, which began in 1968, to reach the last four. But, attacking the net with derring-do, she had the look of a top 10 player. Evert produced what she described as her best tennis of the tournament when she needed to. Leading up to it she offered probably her worst. Evert 's victory was her 96th in singles at Wimbledon, surpassing Billie Jean King's record of 95.

``She was playing so well I didn't know what to do," Evert, who lost eight consecutive games to concede the second set and trail 3-0 in the third, said. ``I never felt confident in the third set."

Evert, aged 34, the champion on three occasions, had dismissed reports that she had reached a decision on retirement and would make this her last Wimbledon. But she indicated yesterday that her mind is almost made up. ``I was thinking: `If this is my last year, which probably it would be, this is not the way to go out.' I could not believe it was happening to me.

``Ten years ago I would never have let a match slip away like that but that's what happens when you get older mentally you are not into every single point." But Evert was into the points that mattered, in particular when she was trailing 5-3, 30-0 on Golarsa's service in the final set. Playing from memory, she produced a service return down the line, a backhand pass and a running backhand down the line off an exquisite angled volley.

Golarsa, as if stunned that Evert could be so obdurate, put a seemingly simple volley wide to drop her service. ``That backhand down the line at 30-all was crucial," Evert said. ``She should have been covering the backhand and it put me in contention."

The Italian who started the match, losing the first three games benignly and surrendering the first set, underwent a metamorphosis early in the second set. She repelled everything Evert could offer, which often was not very much. And, as the American, seeded No.4, said, Golarsa did not choke at the finish. It was simply that Evert's best shots were better than the Italian's.

Evert's comeback kept the name of her former husband out of the headlines. John Lloyd was given much of the credit for Catarina Lindqvist's victory in the preceding match on court one. Lindqvist, the first Swedish woman to reach a Wimbledon singles semi-final and the first unseeded player to do so since Yvonne Vermaak six years ago, defeated Ros Fairbank, of South Africa, 7-5, 7-5. Lloyd was taken ill overnight and was unable to attend.
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

No headline available
Tuesday, July 4, 1989
MIKE DAVIS, Gannett News Service

WIMBLEDON, England - Caruso doesn't give his final performance in a barber shop quartet. Olivier doesn't end his career doing dinner theater. Isadora Duncan doesn't wind up in a stripjoint.

And Chris Evert does not finish her Wimbledon career anywhere but on Centre Court, in any round before the semifinals, against any opponent who isn't among the world's best.

"I was thinking that in the third set today," she said late Tuesday afternoon. "If this is going to be my last year here, which it probably will be, I didn't want to go out in the quarters, on Court 1. It was almost like I didn't deserve to lose that way."

Perhaps that state of mind was what carried the 34-year-old three-time champion here. who'd failed to reach the semis only once in her 17 previous appearances. to probably her greatest Wimbledon comeback.

Trailing 5-2 in the third set against a feisty 21-year-old named Laura Golarsa, and two steps from oblivion when the Italian woman served at 5-3, 30-0, she called on two decades of pro experience, summoned up consummate baseline artistry from years gone by, and pulled herself to an enthralling 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 quarterfinal victory in the lengthening shadows on Court 1.

Evert may hit the ball barely half as hard as she did in her prime.

She may barely stand a chance when she faces top-ranked Steffi Graf in the semifinals Thursday.

But she still has the heart and the mind of a champion, and she demonstrated it Tuesday, when in her moments of greatest crisis she made the kind of shots that only a champion can.

From 30-0, a backhand service-return winner.

At 30-15, an inside-out backhand pass from midcourt to pull even.

Then, an absolutely astounding shot - a shot that turns matches around.

Golarsa approached and angled a forehand volley deep into the corner. Evert, gliding to her left along the baseline, crossed the sideline and, from three feet out of court, stretched to deliver her trademark two-fisted backhand. The ball sailed over the net post, past Golarsa at the net, and didn't cross back into the court until it landed - less than six inches inside the baseline, maybe three inches inside the sideline.


"Not many players can play this shot," Golarsa would say later. "That is why she is Chris Evert."

"Until that moment I didn't think I was going to win the match," Evert said. "I was wondering, do I have enough in reserve to pull this out? Or is there nothing there? Fortunately, there was something there.

"That was the moment I really became inspired."

More inspiration had come moments earlier from her father Jimmy, who watched from the stands as his daughter fell into what looked like a hopeless hole.

"I looked over to him at 3-0 in the third," Evert said, "and he gave me the fist sign (for encouragement). He never does anything like that; he's so passive. I felt like crying. He'd come all this way ..."

Too far for Chris to let him down. And with one astonishing shot, she elevated herself and sapped Golarsa's spirit.

The Italian blew an easy forehand volley to give Chris the game, missed a backhand approach at deuce and then a lob as Evert held for 5-all.

Evert broke again with another big-time shot - a crosscourt forehand, again landing a hair's breadth inside the baseline and sideline - then held at love for the match.

"Ten years ago I wouldn't have let a match like this (nearly) slip away," Evert said. "That's what happens when you get older."

Indeed, the fact that the fourth-seeded Evert struggled so against an unseeded youngster ranked 82nd in the world illustrates the decline of her skills.

After winning the first set and getting a service break for a 2-1 lead in the second, she lost eight consecutive games, Golarsa volleying with pinpoint accuracy while Evert missed passing shot after passing shot from the backcourt.

But at the end, she was still standing. So was the crowd, which sent her off afterward with a heartfelt ovation.

"I've reached the semifinals," she said. "Anything that happens now is icing on the cake."

And beyond that? Could there be another Wimbledon for Chris Evert?

"I don't know how much more I can squeeze out of myself," she said. "It looks like this is it."

If so, she gave Wimbledon at least one last snapshot to remember her by Tuesday.
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

July 5, 1989
Sydney Morning Herald

LONDON, Wednesday: There are tennis balls like there are bullets ... with somebody's name on them.

This particular ball at this particular moment had two names on it. Slazenger and Chris Evert.

The ball had acquired Evert's name because if ever one ball, one shot, was meant to finish a player's career this was it.

To appreciate the importance of this ball it has to be put in its precise context in the quarter-final match between Evert and Laura Golarsa on the No1 Court yesterday.

One set all and with Evert down 5-3, Golarsa was serving for the match at 30-all, two points from victory and becoming, at 21, the first Italian woman ever to reach a semi-final at Wimbledon.

Evert was two points away from a drubbing at the hands of a player who was of so little consequence, Evert had forgotten that two years ago she had played her and beaten her in the second round at Wimbledon.

A couple of days ago Evert said all she knew about Golarsa was that she was Italian.

Now Evert knew Golarsa was a very dangerous Italian. Evert was staring at a defeat she would have a lot of trouble living with near the end of her long, bright afternoon of tennis. The sort of defeat that makes an aging player realise it's time to go.

Golarsa, ranging at the net and wanting to finish it, pushes a volley wide to the backhand court. The ball bounces and swings beyond the tramlines.

Evert is a good stride wide of the doubles sideline when she gets a forehand on the ball. Golarsa then catches the return at the net and scissors a volley away from Evert into the backhand pocket. Evert races the full baseline and backhands down the line for a winner.

"Unbelievable" Golarsa was to call the shot that reduced her to a spectator turning her head to track it like everyone else. The match turned on that ball, as both players were to come to understand.

Evert broke Golarsa's serve, held service to level at 5-all at which point a terrible grip took hold of Golarsa around the throat and her place in Wimbledon history slipped away, at least for 1989. Evert was through to her 17th semi-final from 18 Wimbledons.

"I don't remember really what happened in the first two points," Evert said afterwards. "I remember that (point) was crucial because it was a running backhand.

"It was such an accurate shot, and when she had me that wide probably she should have been covering down the line because I was just out of court. That obviously was the biggest point in the third set, biggest point in the match.

"That was the moment that I was inspired. That shot put me in contention for the match."

Before the turning point, Evert had thought, "This isn't the way I would like to go out of the tournament" because it could be her last year at Wimbledon. "It's almost like I didn't feel like I deserved to lose that way, and in the quarter-finals. Maybe I earned the win a little bit."

If Michael Chang had played that down-the-line backhand winner, he would have happily given all the credit to Jesus. Chris Evert, being Chris Evert, gave all the credit to herself.

Tomorrow she plays Steffi Graf in the semi-final. Did it cross her mind that somehow she had saved herself on Tuesday to become cannon-fodder on Thursday? Never.
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Dallas Morning News
Wednesday, July 5, 1989

Overcome by memories of Wimbledons past, Chris Evert saw the future as a destiny she didn't deserve.

Her foremost thought: "I can't believe this is happening to me."

For a moment, she was helpless. Her forehands were long. Her backhands were wide, and her serves were into the net.

Fourth-seeded Evert was on the brink of losing perhaps the last match of her storied Wimbledon career to an unseeded and little-known Italian named Laura Golarsa, who at No. 87 is the lowest-ranked player competing in the quarterfinals.

"I certainly never thought I was going to win the match," Evert said. ''It's almost like I didn't feel like I deserved to lose that way, and in the quarterfinals."

But then came The Shot. The inspiration Evert needed to carry her to a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory and a spot in the semifinals where she will play top- seeded Steffi Graf on Thursday. It will be her 17th trip to the semifinals in the 18 Wimbledons she has played.

Trailing 5-3 and tied at 30-all in the third set, Evert hit a winner with a running backhand down-the-line passing shot as Golarsa stood frozen in disbelief.

"That was crucial," Evert said. "I think that obviously was the biggest point in the third set, the biggest point in the match.

"To be truthful, it was sort of slipping away from me. But one more point, and it is 5-4 and it's almost even."

Evert broke on the ensuing point when Golarsa hit a forehand first volley wide.

She then held in a deuce game, broke Golarsa at 30 and served a love game for the match.

Evert received a three-minute standing ovation from the All England Club Court One capacity crowd of 8,000 who witnessed the Miracle on Church Road.

"That's why she's Chris Evert," Golarsa said.

At least, that's what makes her Chris Evert, whose career has been marked by unwavering concentration and unsurpassed determination.

Evert trailed the set, 4-1 and 5-2, before staging the biggest comeback of her career since 1975, when she beat Nancy Richey in Indianapolis despite trailing, 7-6, 5-0. And she did it by finding that at 34 she still had something left.

"I was wondering if I had that reserve," Evert said. "Do I have enough in reserve to pull this match out, or was there nothing there? Thank heavens for me, there is something there.

"Ten years ago, I never would have let a match slip away like I did today. Certainly if it would be my last year (at Wimbledon), which probably it would be, it would not be the way to go out. I was pretty lucky to win the match."

Cheering unabashedly and sitting in the family courtside box was Martina Navratilova, who with Pam Shriver watched a former Federation Cup teammate pull out the victory. Absent was Graf, who needed just 71 minutes to defeat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, 7-5, 6-1, to avenge her French Open championship loss to the 17-year-old Spaniard.

Next, Evert will attempt to stop a losing streak at seven matches against Graf that dates to 1986.

Her game plan?

"Gosh, hit the ball," Evert said.

Graf, the defending Wimbledon champion, advanced to the semifinals for the third consecutive year. Navratilova, having defeated unseeded Gretchen Magers, 6-1, 6-2, in 62 minutes, advanced to the semifinals for the 12th consecutive year and 13th overall, keeping alive her run for a record ninth Wimbledon singles title.

But Navratilova has refused to look ahead to the anticipated final against Graf, who stopped Navratilova's string of Wimbledon titles at six last year by defeating her in the title match.

Instead, Navratilova is gearing up for Catarina Lindqvist, who reached the semifinals by defeating Ros Fairbank, 7-5, 7-5.

"You cannot look ahead," Navratilova said. "The players are too good. If you start looking ahead, you will find yourself packing your bags and going home before you get there (the final)."

Evert, however, was looking ahead Tuesday, and because she didn't like what she saw, she still has a chance to get there.
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Re: Chris Evert Thread

Great Evert/Navratilova Interview today reminiscing about the 84 US Open final

A U.S. Open to Remember: Navratilova and Evert Look Back

Interview by JAMES KAPLANAUG. 20, 2014


Navratilova (the victor) and Evert after the match. Credit Walter Iooss Jr.

Within the bounds of a singles tennis court, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova knew each other very well. Between 1973 and 1988, the two 18-time Grand Slam champs faced each other 80 times, with Navratilova holding a slight advantage, 43 to 37. Yet remarkably, despite their monumental rivalry, they were close friends off the court. Having so frequently found themselves alone together at the end of a tournament, Evert and Navratilova formed a bond that is difficult to imagine today between champions: They practiced together, helped tune each otherís strokes and hung out regularly. They even won Wimbledon and the French Open as doubles partners.
But by the time they stepped onto the green DecoTurf of Louis Armstrong Stadium for the 1984 U.S. Open final, the relationship had gone through some changes. Evert, who dominated in the early days of the rivalry, had terminated the doubles partnership. ďMy goal was to be No. 1 in singles, and I felt we were becoming too familiar with each otherís games,Ē she told me. Later, Navratilovaís coach and life partner, the professional basketball player Nancy Lieberman, agreed. ďShe said, ĎSheís got something you want, and you need to go get it,í Ē Navratilova recalled. " ĎYou need to get mean.í Ē After adopting Liebermanís grueling fitness regime, Navratilova went on a 254-6 tear from 1982 to 1984.

Navratilova was a forerunner of todayís heavy hitters. Credit Walter Iooss Jr./Getty
Entering that September afternoon, however, Evert had started to close the gap between them. The epic three-set match, their 61st meeting, quickly entered the annals of U.S. Open history. Thirty years later, itís clear that Navratilovaís overwhelming play that day looked ahead to the advent of the power game in womenís tennis, which has come to define the sport. Here, the players remember the agony and exhilaration of that afternoon in Queens.
JAMES KAPLAN: Coming into the í84 U.S. Open final, Martina, you had beaten Chris 12 times in a row. It must have been a tense afternoon ó especially since the match couldnít even start until the conclusion of Ivan Lendl and Pat Cashís semifinal, which turned out to be a five-set marathon.
CHRIS EVERT: Very often at tournaments, Martina and I were in the locker room together on the last day. Early on I noticed that we had different ways of preparing. Martina always seemed to have a little restless energy; she was a little more hyper than I was. I had to empty my mind; I kind of went into a state of nothingness ó maybe it was a form of meditation. That afternoon, we were ready to play about three or four different times when we thought the Lendl-Cash match was going to be over. I was almost afraid to watch that semifinal; meanwhile Martina was eating all the time and saying, ďOh, Lendl won the set; weíre not going to be on for another hour.Ē
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I am much more oblivious to the emotional ebbs and flows. Chris is much more attuned to that stuff ó before the match she knew what she needed to do. I was kind of in my own world. After Chris retired, she told me, ďI always knew before the match whether you were going to play well or not, because if you were nervous and peppy and talkative, you were confident, and if you were quiet, you were just nervous.Ē
C.E.: I really had been working on my confidence, to just try to talk myself into not being intimidated and being more confident that I could stay with her. At that point, itís like mind games when I walk on the court. For those 12 losses, there were many times when Iíd already lost the match before I walked on the court because I just didnít have the confidence to do what I needed to do. She was just playing unbeatable tennis at that time.
J.K.: How did you feel as the match started?
C.E.: So I go into this match, and I think Iím really playing well, and I think Iíve got a chance. Compared to those last 12 matches, I was playing my best, and my attitude was the best. I think the crowd was really on my side because of the fact that I was the underdog. I remember winning the first set 6-4, and then in the second set, she was up a break, but I had a break chance ó she was serving at 15-40. Then she had a winner on one point, and I made an unforced forehand error on the other one. Playing Martina was like playing Serena Williams now ó you didnít get many opportunities. I had a chance to even the second set, but she won it.
The end of the second set between Navratilova and Evert at the 1984 U.S. Open. YouTube
J.K.: Martina, after you won the second set, 6-4, there were boos from the crowd.
M.N.: Americans always cheer for the underdog, and I do, too, but it was hard for me because the year before, when I beat Chris in the final, the crowd was pretty 50-50 ó maybe even pulling for me a bit more, because that was the last Grand Slam that I hadnít won yet. Then fast-forward a year, and Iíd barely lost any matches, and I felt that they were so much for Chris. I understand people pulling for Chris. I would be pulling for her, too. But I felt that they wanted me to lose rather than for Chris to win. Thatís the hard part.
J.K.: Martina, you had such a dominating serve then. What was it like receiving Chrisís serve? Was there anything surprising about it?
M.N.: Chrisís serve wasnít powerful, but it was strong enough, the first serve. You still had to be on the lookout. I mean, she didnít ace me that many times, but you still had to pay attention. She kept it low, and the ball didnít bounce up, so it wasnít really attackable. Nor was the second serve that attackable. It wasnít hard, but it was low, and she placed. . . .
J.K.: It was spun.
M.N.: Yeah, and she had a slice on it and she placed it well. So it wasnít predictable, and it was hard to get hold of it, because back then we couldnít spin the ball [on the return] so much.
C.E.: Because it wasnít a big serve, I felt that if I got my first serve in, like, 80 percent of the time, which I did, it would start the rally and Martina could not attack it. But as soon as I hit a second serve, I knew if I hit to her backhand, she was going to chip and come in. She did that so well. Thatís why I tried to at least get a high percentage of first serves in.
J.K.: Chris, you double-faulted a few times in the third set. Were you nervous?
C.E.: I remember thinking, O.K., Iíve got to stay with her, Iíve got to stay with her. When it was like 3-all or 4-all in the third, I stuck to my game, and thatís a conservative game. To beat Martina, I had to take chances, I had to play out of the box. At that point, I played it safe, played my game, and Martina played her game, but her game was better than my game at that point, and she won the third set.
J.K.: Martina, you won the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, but the crowd didnít give you a hugely positive reaction. In fact, you cried afterward.
M.N.: Ironically, when I lost in í81 to Tracy [Austin], I was crying after the match because I felt I was accepted by the crowd, and then three years later, I was crying after I won the match because I felt I was rejected by the crowd. When I hugged Mike Estep [her coach], I remember saying to him: ďWhy were they so against me? This is so hard, this is so hard.Ē Not to take anything away from Chris, but it was really disheartening because I thought, Itís not like I got arrested for drunken driving and did something really bad, beat up a dog or something. I was the same human being. Yet, I felt completely rejected. For me, it was so important to be accepted by the crowd, and it was really very difficult. Itís probably the saddest Iíve ever been after winning a Grand Slam title.
Martina Navratilova versus Tracy Austin in the 1981 U.S. Open final. YouTube
J.K.: After your loss to Tracy Austin at the í81 Open, did you feel that the crowd was applauding more than just a tennis match?
M.N.: Well, I thought it was a combination. I became a U.S. citizen that summer, and then I also came out that summer. So they were accepting me as an American despite the fact that I came out as gay, because that certainly was a big no-no back then. That was amazing. I didnít break down because I lost the match. I would have felt the same whether I won or lost. I was weeping because I was accepted. They kept applauding ó thatís when I lost it.
J.K.: And then in í84 you lost them.
C.E.: I want to respond to that. I can understand why they were reacting that way. One reason is that Iíd lost 12 times in a row. The other thing is, at the U.S. Open, I felt like I always had the crowd on my side. That was my first big splash, breaking in at that tournament at 16. I was their girl. When I used to play [Evonne Goolagong] in Australia, I sometimes was close to tears after the match, because I didnít have one fan.
M.N.: So you know how it feels.
C.E.: Exactly. And when I played Virginia Wade in the semis at Wimbledon [in 1977], I almost tanked the last point, because I was so ó I mean, I really was annoyed at how biased the fans were. So now the shoe was on the other foot. I think we both felt both sides of the coin.
J.K.: Where was your friendship by September í84? Martina, at a certain point you had a significant other who considered Chris the enemy and told you to hate her.
M.N.: Yeah. That was Nancy Lieberman. Itís well documented.

Evert was determined to be No. 1 again. Credit Steven E. Sutton/Corbis
J.K.: Right. But by September í84, were you and Lieberman still together?
M.N.: No. I was with Judy Nelson that year. So things had calmed down on that front.
C.E.: And when I was coached by Dennis Ralston, he was trying to get me to be tough with Martina also. The early Ď80s was probably our worst period, where there were some hurt feelings. But Martina, I think Judy helped you with that. She said, ďYou can still be friends.Ē
M.N.: Absolutely. And then [in 1989] you retired, so that changed everything. Because it had always been such a one-on-one situation. I didnít realize until I was doing commentary what a gladiator-like competition tennis is ó other than no one dies. The crowd is waiting for the players to come, and they walk through the tunnel, and they get on the court, and they get out their rackets, their weapons, and now they start. So itís a miracle that we were able to be friends.
C.E.: In the last three or four years we played each other, I think we felt comfortable with our rivalry and with ourselves and our relationship.
J.K.: Do you remember, both of you, when you first started to practice together?
M.N.: Maybe the fall of í74, but mostly í75, when I started living in the States. We played a lot of doubles together.
C.E.: We practiced together before our finals in quite a few tournaments, too. Because in those early years, there were no coaches, and we were often the only ones left in the tournament. I know for sure in the French Open, before our final in í75, we practiced together, had lunch together ó
M.N.: There were a bunch of tournaments where that happened.
C.E.: What was great about our practices ó Martina would say: ďChrissie, do you need any more serves? Do you want me to serve?Ē ďCould you serve a couple more on the backhand side? I need to get that going.Ē
M.N.: Different times.
J.K.: Doesnít the commercialization of the game just make everybody more insular now? The top players all travel with their coaches, their trainers and their whole team.
M.N.: I think thatís been happening for a while. Once we could afford it, we had people traveling with us. So the players hang out less with each other.
J.K.: So where are the great rivalries in womenís tennis today? Whatís happened? Thereís certainly no shortage of strong players.
M.N.: Well, nobody has been consistent at the top. On the womenís side, itís been Serena [Williams] and whoever comes lately. For a while it looked like it was going to be a [Justine] Henin-Williams thing, but then Henin retired twice, and [Kim] Clijsters retired as well ó and it just kind of fizzled. Nobody was able to sustain it.
C.E.: Iím surprised nobody has stepped up to the plate. Martina, are you?
M.N.: I am, too. I think itís a combination of the age eligibility rule in which theyíre not able to play [fully] on the tour until theyíre 18. I think theyíre losing two or three years of really critical improvement time in their game, which to me comes between 15 and 20. Thatís why they are not winning slams at 21; they are waiting until they are 24, 25. Thatís given Serena Williams a little breathing room.
C.E.: Also, I think getting endorsements and setting players up for life is very important, but we didnít have as many distractions, and I think we were hungrier. I really do. A lot of it has to do with Serena, too. The combination of the movement and the power ó when sheís on, itís hard to beat her. But this year, with her having more losses, I would think one or two of the players would be hungry enough and sense it, like, ďO.K., this could be the year of the changing of the guardĒ and ďthis could be my year.Ē I donít know. I just donít see the Radwanskas and Azarenkas doing that. I donít know. Maybe I am underestimating. Maybe everybody is hungry. But I just donít see anybody, except for [Eugenie] Bouchard, who seems to have that eye-of-the-tiger intensity, along with Sharapova. I mean, we thought Sloane Stephens would have it, and she hasnít shown it. Martina, what do you think?
M.N.: I agree. I think that the quality of being able to sustain the drive and the focus and the concentration and the hard work ó even with Serena, it was kind of in and out, but now she certainly has had it the last three years. Sharapova has always had it, but she had injuries get in the way. I think Azarenka was pretty driven, but she had some injuries get in the way. Now Iím not so sure. I thought she should have played more tournaments after Wimbledon, and she didnít, and sheís not in the mix right now. And Sloane Stephens doesnít have that sense of urgency, which certainly Bouchard has. Thatís nice to see. You canít be pushed into it. You have to do it yourself.
J.K.: Unlike the two of you during your rivalry, these women are all playing more or less the same game ó power tennis. Tell me about the evolution of the power game.
C.E.: I noticed it with Monica [Seles] and then Steffi [Graf], but Martina led the way. What she had, at her peak, was a serve like Serena Williams right now ó either it was an ace, or it was unreturnable, or it would set up for her to come in and volley. I mean, Steffi and Martina were the two greatest players that I ever played. But with Monica, itís hard to say, because when she got stabbed, she was No. 1 in the world and had won that last grand slam [the 1993 Australian Open, her eighth slam]. With her out of the game for two and a half years, Steffi really didnít have anybody that was going to challenge her. So she piled up a few more grand slams. After Monica got back, it wasnít ever the same.
M.N.: I think the power just kind of came gradually. First it was Steffi with the big forehand; then Monica with power off both wings and taking the ball early, really taking time away from you; and then Lindsay [Davenport] with her heavy ball; and then here come the Williams sisters ó and then everybody was hitting the ball at Mach-3, and everybody still does now. The equipment makes it possible to do that: itís not just that you can hit the groundstrokes hard, but you can return hard. With our rackets, you could block or slice the ball on the return of serve; you couldnít swing ó you wouldnít make it, or youíd make one out of five. The new strings allow you to take a big cut at the ball and put a lot of spin on it, and now everybody can use power, because the harder you swing, the safer the shot. For us, it was the opposite.
C.E.: So these days, the players go out and just say, ďIíve got to play my game.Ē In our day, strategy was a lot more important. We played the weaknesses as much as we played our own game. In this day and age, they just worry about, ďIíve just got to hit out, Iíve just got to be relaxed.Ē
M.N.: Exactly.
C.E.: I think the other misconception is that the game is more athletic now. We had athletes just as great. If you could bring Martina and Steffi in their prime to the present with this dayís equipment, they would still be No. 1, No. 2 in the world. I think that mentally and emotionally. . . . I donít know, maybe we were tougher. I donít know.
J.K.: You were pretty damn tough, Chris.
M.N.: Ha! I remember that!
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