I think people international (particularly in Asia) liked her looks but was too homely white American in public.
But Triv, you make my point for me -- that's who Chris WAS! She didn't have the facial features of Shriek or Kourny or Dementieva or Harkelroad (to give examples from today's players)! She was the American "girl next door!" Which translates to "average - nothing spectacular."
In my opinion, Chris took average and made it special and appealing! Many guys had crushes on her -- and I don't think it was just white American guys from what I read on the net.
I always admired her for becoming a sex symbol, dispite only having "girl next door looks," by emphasizing style over God given features like a perfect nose and mouth and eyes, that she quite honestly was not given. She knew how to dress nicely and carried herself with class. When she lost weight and went with Ellessee clothing, no one looked better than Chrissie. She was attractive in her own way.
Now that her rivals (for love as well as tennis) are middle aged and fading from gorgeous beauties to handsome, Chris seems better looking than most of the others because she was always "handsome" (which I think hurt her when she was young) and has aged well, in addition to remaining a shining example of good health. Whereas others have gained weight, etc.
I feel that she married John Lloyd so the British public would stop criticizing her. I feel that she didn't want to improve her power of her serve because it was too manly to do so. She wanted to win as a feminine as possible. I for one didn't think that her looks were marketed for me but for somebody else. I thought it was a bit in your face that I wanted it gone during the 1970's and 1980's.
I think that Chris married John Lloyd because she honestly thought she loved him (she was only 24) and she was lonely. He was great looking, models were after him, so I'm sure it fed her ego to have this great looking guy fall for her. Especially after Jimmy continually dumped her for models, actresses, etc. Also, John was someone that she could quite honestly (in my opinion) control! Jimmy Connors sent her emotionally into a whirlwind, whereas John would say, "Whatever you want lovey..."
Unfortunately for John, Chris likes spice and individuality and manliness. When John refused to learn to drive for so long, I was surprised that she married him!! Especially living here in Los Angeles (I live here - I know) where its difficult to get around if you can't drive or have no car.
She must have felt really annoyed at having to take him everywhere! So it was bound to fail eventually. But the experience seems to have been good for John in particular. He seemed to learn to become more independent from being with Chris.
As for her serve -- who knows! Part of me thinks that Chris was hampered by thinking of herself as less athletically inclined and slow. Tony Trabert once said that if Chris could get some spring in her legs during her service motion, that she could really pop it. But Chris remained stiff in the legs and back.
Also, she was sort of old (for a player) when she began to change her body and game dramatically. She started at what -- 28 to build up her body through weights and fitness, and added a better volley game, plus better all court coverage to her game? Even Billie Jean once commented on how amazed she was that Chris was able to change to much so late an age (for an athlete). Chris did add the "twist serve," but she never was able to add spring in her service delivery like Martina or Steffi. I believe that she wanted to though.
As for the Williams sisters, they come across for everybody to look. They don't market to anyone but themselves and everybody in the world is eating it up. Though, they could be different in private.
Don't forget that when Chris first came on the scene 36 years ago when women athletes didn't have the marketability that they have now. It was a totally different time for the way women as a whole thought of ourselves. In one of the documentaries about Chris, her IMG agent talks about Chris was really the first to be marketed in a major way being a career woman and athlete.
Now, people look to cutting edge WOMEN and athletes to market! Serena and Venus are considered cutting edge and they're women, and quite honestly there is more opportunities for black athletes and other people of color and ethnicities than there were 30 and 40 years ago.
Back in the 1980's Zina (who at one point was number 4 in the world) couldn't even get a clothing or shoe contract. Today, companies want to cross market to all people and nations, and Serena (especially) and Venus came along challenging EACH OTHER for grand slams and took advantage of the coverage that both being so unbelievably talented brought to them. Plus people of color are now hot to market.
I hate to say it, but Chris was a young girl in the days of Twiggy and European looks and fashion, and she was no Susan Dey (who was the cute all American sister next door)! That anorexic figure that everyone wanted didn't begin with models in the 2000's. It began with Twiggy in the 60's, and that was the body image that most girls of my era desired. No hips, small breast, thin, with a straight hair and a perfect nose and lips. Can we say Michelle Phillips.
This body image may still have its place in the design world, but with the hip hop generation and more exposure to international beauties and entertainment (such as Bollywood, asian movies, and latin culture), modern culture has generated more exposure and opportunity for people of color to strut that bootylicious brick house shape of Serena's (also J-Lo and Ashwarya don't forget Missy Elliott, along with a host of rappers and hip hop singers!).
In the 70's, the only people paying tribute to the female "Brick House" were the Commodores (who had a number one record by that title). Zina Garrison WISHES the brick house had been acceptable as high beauty then.
It wasn't the right time, but it is now.