Chris Evert turned pro at the age of 16. This was at the 1971 U.S. Open. She won 4 matches before losing to Billie Jean King.
Her father, Jimmy Evert, was a teaching tennis pro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Chrissie “grew up” on clay courts and her style of play was best suited for clay.
She hit deep and penetrating ground strokes from the base line, great angled passing shots. Her two fisted backhand was one of the best tennis strokes in tennis history. She rarely moved from the baseline and could dictate play from there. She later developed volleying skill, but she initially only came to the net to shake hands after she won a match.
In the image below, note her eyes. She has struck the ball and is beginning her follow – through, yet her eyes have not yet moved. She was well – trained and disciplined on a tennis court. She played “within herself” and generally won matches by steadiness – fewer unforced errors.
She was known as the “Ice maiden”, since she had great powers of concentration and never showed much emotion.
In the early 70’s, tennis was a slower game. Racquets were made of wood and were much smaller in head size than racquets of today.
One could make the case that tennis was a more interesting game then. Tactics seemed more important. Chrissie developed a delicate drop shot. At times, she seemed to want to bring her opponent to the net, so that she could win points by superior passing shots.
My amateur “career” began about 10 years before Chrissie’s pro career. This was a time of white tennis balls and white tennis apparel, as well as the wooden and smaller racquets. Tennis ball cans were opened with a key. The importance of hydration on the court was not yet fully understood. When an audience thought a line call was in question, a low whistling sound was used to express disapproval.
Power, or “pace”, had to be generated by subtleties such as meeting the ball out front with weight moving forward at contact. Equipment could not accomplish this.
SHE BECOMES A SUPERSTAR
Chris did not wait long before she was able to establish herself as the #1 female tennis player in the world. Here are some highlights:
- In 1974, she won the French Open and Wimbledon
- In 1974, her match record was 100 wins, 7 losses
- She was ranked #1 in the world in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981
- Chris won at least one Grand Slam tournament for 13 consecutive years, still a world record. There were 4 Grand Slams – Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open
- She won 157 titles in her career. 18 were Grand Slam titles.
- Chris won the French Open 7 times, a record for women
- In her career, she won 1309 matches and lost 146, an incredible 90% win rate
- Chris was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year 4 times
- The Women’s Sports Foundation voted her the “Greatest Woman Athlete of the Last 25 Years”
- She was unanimously elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998
CHRIS EVERT’S FITNESS PROGRAM AT AGE 65
Paraphrasing Everyday Health, below are the essential points of Chris’ senior fitness program: First of all, she gets up every morning to teach and hit with students at her tennis academy. After that, she goes for variety. She is incredibly fit, but considers exercise as important for her mind as for her body
- Chris does many forms of exercise – tennis (of course), yoga, stretching, Crossfit and weight training for strength
- She exercises 45 minutes per day.
- Chris is motivated by awakening in the morning and putting on workout clothing. Then she is committed.
- While she recommends 45 minutes per day, she says at least do 15 minutes (take a walk)
- She prefers 8 hours of sleep and feels sluggish with 6 or 7 hours
- She recommends wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen when outdoors. She has had two cataracts in her eyes due to being in the sun to play tennis
- She uses Osteo Bi-flex for joint flexibility
Chris stresses the importance of eating natural foods. Here is a typical diet day:
- Breakfast – two poached eggs on toast, coffee
- Lunch – a turkey sandwich, fruit and sometimes chips
- Dinner – salmon, chicken or filet, with a salad or veggies and rice
She often has wine and a chocolate chip cookie later at night. She doesn’t believe in “depriving yourself”
Her health philosophy in her own words:
“For me, staying healthy isn’t a choice. It’s just who I am. I have three teenage sons, so I know how hard it can be to eat right and make sure that your family is eating right, too. Balancing work and family and staying healthy is never easy, but you can have it all”.
- Osteo Bi-flex, triple strength
- Chrissie: My Story
- Martina & Chrissie: The greatest rivalry in the history of sports
- Wilson Chris Evert Autograph Wood Tennis Racquet, a Collector’s Item
As most tennis fans know, Chris now regularly provides commentary in all televised Grand Slam women’s tennis tournaments.
She is articulate, she looks great and, after 3 marriages, she is still America’s “tennis sweetheart” at almost 66 years of age.
She developed a fierce rivalry with Martina Navratilova when they were playing. The emergence of Martina seemed to boost Chris’ game and both ladies benefited from their association and strong friendship.
Chris is shown below as a senior athlete. Note that her racquet is of the current mold – oversize (now considered normal) and metal.
Maybe 30 years ago, I saw Chris and Martina playing team tennis in Charlotte, NC. World Team Tennis at that time was a thriving and competitive form of this great sport. Still, it was easy to see that Chris was having a good time. Her partner accidentally hit her in the back with a tennis ball while serving in doubles play, Chris turned around and loudly asked “What did I do to deserve that?”.
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Be well and stay safe!