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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 2004, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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preview report on the A&E Evert program

as chris has so often said, "weeeeellllll..."

for those who have seen the 'greatest sports legends profile' by espn, there is little comparison between the two. maybe because espn had grabbed alot of the best pictures and footage, A&E did not want to repeat the same images...so they resorted to a lot of pictures, panning across them to tell the story of chris' career. but since a lot of better pictures have already been seen, this decision has pluses and minuses...there were some new great pix from crucial moments in chris' career but a better half were just not great pictures at all (like, 'who would choose that picture?!') and the match-up between images on screen and moments (both in video footage & pictures) being discussed were not at all from the same periods, often jarringly so.

plus...and this is just a point about chris, herself...chris doesnt really remember her matches and history so well...this is why she often deferred to steve flink in press conferences even when she was playing; her focus was and is very much in the 'now' and that quality helped her to focus in the 'now' in her matches. Martina, on the other hand, can tell you about specific points and details in matches and records she holds and how she built them step by step: she's a martina expert. Roger federer is that way now...he knows his own history very well and watches his own matches and is very INTO "the roger federer story" in tennis history.

chris does not. Most of us who have had to gather info for chris just laugh that she is not the source for the best info on her playing career and enjoy the irony in that.

But in the A&E special, there are a NUMBER of moments of clear misinformation, and they are not corrected in editing. Chris for instance remembers the 80 USO SF as being the end of the conflict with Austin in that she says "I never lost to her again" which is dramatically untrue; she lost 2 of 3 to tracy the following year. Then when they ask her about the 89 USO matches, she misremembers the score against Seles (says 6-1 6-2 instead of 6-0 6-2) and then says she "had never lost to Zina before" which was also mis-remembered. there are a number of instances like these.

And the A&E staff did not seem to do much homework to correct her. chris remembers the 1985 french as her being #2 or 3, when she was quite firmly #2 at that point, to the extent that she became the #1 player again after that match and stayed there til the end of November. They never even mention this 6 month stretch of regaining #1 at age 31 which seemed....a major point to miss in covering the trajectory of her legend, especially considering they focused a lot on her back-n-forth flirtation with #1 throughout the program.

Martina is not interviewed, nor is carillo or collins, so this is not helpful. but the overall coverage of the tracy austin rivalry was actually quite good (chris humorously says "This little Brat, tracy austin, comes along" and says with a chuckle of john lloyd, "He really wanted me to beat that little tracy austin"), as was there new info to me on her decision to come back to #1 in 1980 after a conversation with john newcombe following her losses to austin. That was cool. Also, her romance with connors & Lloyd was good. And two quotes that stand out are John Lloyd saying, "If you really analyze her game, Chris basically had no weapons, but she was ranked #1 because her mind was beyond belief" and BJK saying "Chris could charge her battery every day better than anybody". The 'career pre-1974' was done well. Chris talking about first seeing Martina was hilarious, "Martina was walking around eating a McDonalds cheeseburger wearing a bathing suit infront of thousands of people with giant tan lines EVERYWHERE showing through"... But the transition into post-tennis & andy mill was quickly and not-so-well done.

Again, tons of inaccuracy, in that she played for 3 full years with Mill by her side, which they describe as a period where she was alone and unsure. fact is, she left lloyd and met mill within a month...she was never alone. or particularly unsure (if she was alone and unsure it was DURING the marriage to john between 84-86, not after). and when it was near the end, she very level-headedly said, "i'm at a new phase of my career: its called 'end of career' " but this was all skipped over in order to tell what would feel like a sensible storyline for viewing audiences. It just didnt happen to relate to the end of chris' actual career. they made it seem like the 86 french was the last time she beat martina and floundered from 87-89...While she had radically inconsistent results match to match in 88/89, she had glorious wins and, when healthy and match tough, she was less patchy and often combined all the best aspects of her career in single matches, as in the Seles encounter.

Anyway, these are just negatives, but there IS a lot of good stuff and its a good program, for sure. and she is definitely the star of the show in terms of the current chris coming off as quick-thinking (philosophically about life), funny, immediate, fair, and very human and likeable. Only people who really know Evert's playing career will catch that Chris doesnt spend a lot of time remembering her achievements of 25 years ago, which to a certain degree is to her credit; she's not living in the past or measuring herself by her accomplishments. But that the A&E staff took little stock in properly researching her career...is disappointing.

For those who plan to tune into the broadcast, it premiers on the Biography Channel on the 26th (tuesday) at 9 pm.

Last edited by daze11; Oct 25th, 2004 at 03:21 AM.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 2004, 08:22 PM
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I too watched the show with some disappointment; it seemed a bit too formulaic to me, as if the writers/editors had simply watched previous Evert bios and regurgitated much of the same information*, though IMO in less illuminating, perceptive fashion. To my eyes, clearly less time and money was spent on researching, editing , production and analysis, though even previous low budget shows on Evert I've seen have at least displayed some originality/insight - not so here! Match footage was shoddy and unoriginal - why are the same (unremarkable) three or four points always shown in these Evert bios - out of the thousands and thousands to choose from In my view, the program will offer something only to the most casual sports/pop culture fan; more serious tennis fans will likely see it as unmemorable, and many Evert fans as a missed opportunity.

In my subjective opinion, had the researchers spent some time even on this board or at least reviewed chrisevert.net, it might've certainly added some needed depth, clarity and perpective to an otherwise mediocre, sophmoric, uneven effort at "biography."

*Though much of it was relevent, could've been at least relayed through a different angle, approach or nuance.

BTW Daze - You're right: many of the photos looked like they were taken from the reject bin of the local news affiliate evidently they didn't want to spend the $ for the rights to show some decent ones...now I understand why this show didn't premiere in prime time like Sampras's did, which surprise surprise, was far better.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 2004, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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i thought about it, santorofan, and i guess 'biography' is for a general audience, and shouldnt be compared to a sports channel feature like the espn one. its not made for tennis audiences but for anyone sitting in their living room watching 'biography channel'...maybe we were expecting too much.

the 'biography channel' premier is in prime time, though (9 pm) and so i imagine they think of it in the same territory as the sampras feature, even if its not as good!!
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2004, 02:10 AM
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To my knowledge, the Biography Channel is a smaller, newer, less distributed subsidiary of A&E's parent company...even Cox cable where I live doesn't carry it for their digital customers (tho thankfully it has the even lesser-known Tennis Channel).

I realized "Biography" was for a general audiance, but because it was an hour-long show, I figured it'd be at least on par with ESPN's 30 minute segment, esp after viewing their piece on Sampras. Don't get me wrong, I didn't think it was all bad; I'd get a C/C- if I were to rate it.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2004, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santorofan
I'd get a C/C- if I were to rate it.
agreed. at times, a 'B-' but considering how many opportunities were squandered to USE the hour to really give her her due...it was lackluster.

btw, that young close-up pix with super-straight hair and green eyes they used a few times....dangerously hot.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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Hello Daze! I apologize for not writing in a while, will drop you an email soon.
I'm really looking forward to seeing this documentary tomorrow, all of us
here would probably be the most critical on any Evert show, because
we've all followed her for so long and like her so much, but honestly I'm
happy to just see "any" info about Chrissie. I mean of course I was hoping
to see some new photo's and/or match footage in this show, but hey...
that's what chrisevert.net is for, right?!
It is interesting that Chrissie dosent remember her career as well as
Martina does hers, but to me Chris seems much more "humble" than
Martina, I can easily picture Martina sitting down and keeping track
of all her accomplishments over and over and over. It is admirable to
an extent that Chris probably dosent do that, but geez... you'd think
she would want to at least once! What an amazing record she has.

BTW, thanks so much to all who've contributed their memories and/or
info about Chris's career, I've learned so much from this board.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2004, 07:25 PM
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It amazes me that here in the UK we had a series in the mid late 90s called CLash of the Titans, all about famous sports rivalries. I was shocked at the fact that McEnroe an dBorg, of course, got their slot in the series, yet Evert and MArtina, who had played many many times more, were not deemed important enough to devote an hours worth of analysis.

I think if Borg and John hadn' played that tie break in 1980, here in England at least there wouldn't be such a rose tinted view of their "amazing" rivalry. It seems to be based all around that tie break. If only Chris and MArtina had played a similar tie break in one of their WIMBLEDON matches, maybe then they would be recognised more widley as having the more amazing rivalry.

The Borg John episode was very good though, just what you would expect from a show like that, a sometimes match by match analysis with comments from each player. I WISH a documentary would do the same for C and M. I am hoping the new book does this.

Regading the recent Evert doc, what a shame. I understand things have to appeal to a wide audience but I think if you are going to do something at all, do it well!
I've yet to see a FULLY satisfying doc. The Wimbledon Farewell was good up to a point in that it only focused on Wimbledon and had Chris talking about a few specific years. Of course, I wanted it to be MUCH more in depth, but I guess that is unrealistic.
Did anyone see the Billie JEan Reputation doc by the BBC? That is how you make a doc, it looked at Billie from all angles, positive sides and negative sides too. HAd interesting insights from Evert MArtina Rosie, parents, Billie herself, quite candid too. It focused more on her life than the actual matches, but here it worked as her life certainly was more suited to a doc than Evert's. Some great tennis footage though, a joy too watch.

Have there been any Graf docs? A decent one I mean? I think it is about time one was made, a serious in depth one, as it is overdue.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 2004, 08:37 PM
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BTW, I happen to respectfully disagree with John Lloyd about Evert having "no weapons." Of course she had weapons, even if they were perhaps less physically/overtly devastating to the naked eye than those of her top rivals. Some of her weapons were finesse-oriented (dropshot, offensive lob) and could only be achieved with near perfect placement/timing/skill/precision. Moreover, she could certainly more than trade groundstrokes with any woman who ever played the game. Ditto for her passing shots; although she lacked the incredible power of a say a Seles while passing, as Pam Shriver once stated, she still always found a way to get the ball past her opponents through clever manuevering, variety and strategy. Obviously her neurological powers were huge (anticipation/concentration), yet these alone would have never been enough to achieve all that she did as a player.

Further, John Lloyd mentioned that "she basically had no serve," again I have to disagree! Although occassionally her achilles heel, as Peter Bodo points out in his lengthy piece on her career, though her serve would not be viewed as "good" in the conventional sense, quite often it could actually be rather effective. Yes, it could occassionally break down under (Martina's) pressure, but again, its effectiveness was far more subtle in nature, as Evert's success with the shot had everything to do with placement and depth rather than brute power or extreme spin, even if her kick serve did improve post-1984.

Last edited by Santorofan; Oct 26th, 2004 at 02:49 AM.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 2004, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santorofan
BTW, I happen to respectfully disagree with John Lloyd about Evert having "no weapons." Of course she had weapons, even if they were perhaps less physically/overtly devastating to the naked eye than those of her top rivals. Some of her weapons were finesse-oriented (dropshot, offensive lob) and could only be achieved with near perfect placement/timing/skill/precision.
Further, John Lloyd mentioned that "she basically had no serve," again I have to disagree! Although occassionally her achilles heal, as Peter Bodo points out in his lengthy piece on her career, though her serve would not be viewed as "good" in the conventional sense, quite often it could actually be rather effective.
She would be the first to say she just used her serve to 'start a point' with little more intent than that, but I agree, as you say, she did succeed in doing just that. She had good placement and usually kept her first serve up around 80%. I wouldn't call that a weakness. no, she didnt ace her way to a quick end of the point, but she hit the passing shot 3 balls later.

And I agree with what you say regarding her 'weapons' as well; john's point was certainly that her psychology and consistency of concentration were weapons more than any 'physical' ones...but her shot variety and unreadability were GIANT physical-skill-based weapons. She could hit virtually any shot from anywhere on the court, so her options in any point, no matter how much trouble she may have appeared to be in, kept her in a dynamic striking position.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 2004, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricksasha
It is interesting that Chrissie dosent remember her career as well as Martina does hers, but to me Chris seems much more "humble" than
Martina, I can easily picture Martina sitting down and keeping track
of all her accomplishments over and over and over. It is admirable to
an extent that Chris probably dosent do that, but geez... you'd think
she would want to at least once! What an amazing record she has.
it would be fair to say she is the more humble person, but considering her achievements, she may be the most humble champion in any sport. chris was asked if she thought she could beat serena, for instance, and after a pause she flat out said, 'no, the williams' hit too hard'. I since learned that she didnt actually think that; she knows if she grew up now she'd have all the benefits of today's 'armour' in tennis and that her strategy and timing and court sense would put her in good stead on most surfaces in that particular match up. But "if pushed" she would defuse the conflict by deflecting the question. what would be the point? what would it prove? she would certainly get roped into media-inspired controversies with players during her career, but at the end of the day, she always made a point of letting her tennis do the talking.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 26th, 2004, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesuk
Did anyone see the Billie JEan Reputation doc by the BBC? That is how you make a doc, it looked at Billie from all angles, positive sides and negative sides too. HAd interesting insights from Evert MArtina Rosie, parents, Billie herself, quite candid too. It focused more on her life than the actual matches, but here it worked as her life certainly was more suited to a doc than Evert's.
I dont think BJK has more material than chris; its just the difference between a good documentary maker and a not so good one.

they could have talked about her making femininity and pink ribbons a part of tennis that made women believe they too could put themselves on the line in competitive sports (she gave a lot of these 'pretty girls' permission to believe that); they could have gone into greater depth about the mechanics of the clay court mastery she had (its quite something to be the greatest clay court player in the history of the game); could have covered some of her role as wta president for 8 years including the public letter she wrote defending BJK's sexuality in 1980 which she had nothing to gain from but to to throw herself into the line of fire out of loyalty to BJK; and how she publically defended martina's sexuality as well. they could have mentioned that --at the age most retire-- she went ahead and switched from a wood racquet and took on a whole new quest to challenge herself when she could have retired with a 94% career winning percentage instead; they could have talked about chris' high profile romances and being the first woman athlete super-star (was the most recognized athlete in an early 80s world-wide poll over michael jordan and a host of other top-known male athletes); and even that such an essentially non-athletic person could be the one to do it. what a story!! they just didn't study the subject well enough.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 29th, 2004, 01:50 AM
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I really enjoyed watching this documentary. I will agree with the above
statement that we needed to have Carillo and Collins and especially Martina
to be included when discussing her career, but those who were on the show
did a nice job. John Lloyd seems to be such a great guy, and in his early
days with Chrissie, what a hottie, but I still wish I "knew" what happened
in their divorce in '86. John seemed to give so much of himself for Chrissie,
I just don't fully get it. I do remember reading that on occasion, she became
"bored" with John, he seemed to be content to just relax at home and watch
TV. Andy does seem to have a lot more going on in his life and likes to get
out and ski, fish or hike, and that gave Chris a great opportunity to grow
and learn new things. Chris has mentioned on occasion how her parents
didn't talk to her for awhile during the end of the breakup and the divorce,
that must have been so tough on Chris, having to deal with that at the
same time as her divorce, where I'm sure she felt bad enough already.

The funniest part of the documentary to me was when Chrissie was talking
about the first time she went skiing in Aspen with Andy, and all the
celebrities she passed by without even moving, I nearly fell off my
exercise bike when she told that!

The show showed a lot of pic's I hadn't seen before, and I've been
"devouring" the net for the last 5 years, I cant wait to transfer the
tape to my pc and "photoshop" them into my collection. I wish they
had shown more match footage, but that damn copyright shmoppyright
issue was involved Im sure.

Chrissie really does have the fairytale ending to her career, dosent she.
Beautiful home, beautiful husband, and beautiful kids. And the best
part of all, she seems truly happy.
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