We continue our “Legends of Roland Garros” series and next up is Chris Evert.
If Rafael Nadal is the King of Clay, then Chris Evert is the Queen of the Red Dirt.
You could argue that she’s the queen of tennis in general, although a few, Martina Navratilova especially, would surely have something to say about that.
Nevertheless, the achievements of Evert speak for themselves.
She was the first player to amass 1000 singles matches, has 18 major titles to her name, winning at least one a year for a record 13 years in a row.
She won 157 titles in her career, the second most in history, and was the first to surpass the 150-mark.
She finished her career with a win percentage above 90% – the only player to achieve it.
Her achievements on clay were truly stunning too, once enjoying a 125-match winning streak on the surface, and she lost just once in 198 matches on clay in eight years.
Record at Roland Garros
Evert won seven French Open crowns in 12 years.
That’s impressive enough, but it’s even more imperious when you consider she didn’t play the tournament for three of those five years when she didn’t win it.
The 1985 final looked like being a sad affair for Evert.
Her once incredible rivalry with Navratilova had descended into Navratilova domination.
By the time the pair met in the 85 French Open final, the Czech-born star had won 20 of their previous 23 matches, including at Roland Garros – Evert’s final remaining fortress – a year before in the final.
Having just turned 30, Evert’s career appeared to be in terminal decline.
However, Evert was far from a spent force. She took the first set before losing the second on a tie-break when she should have won it.
All eyes were on her to see if she still had the will to close out against Navratilova, and that will was severely tested throughout the decider.
She did miss her first match point, sending an attempted lob just inches too long, but a passing backhand bullet on her second match point restored her star and showed it still shone brightly.
“I am so glad I came along when I did, with Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Stan Smith as role models. And alongside me was Björn (Borg), Jimmy (Connors), and Martina. It was the tennis boom. It was personal, we were close to our fans, and we had enough money.” – Chris Evert
“She’s the most competitive athlete I’ve ever played against, without any question.”
– Billie Jean King
“Chris is an idol for me. (She) was head and shoulders above the rest, mentally. A champion on and off the court…just a good example for any young girl or boy to emulate.”
– Martina Navratilova
“She was an assassin that dressed just nice and said the right things and meanwhile just cut you to shreds.”
– John McEnroe
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