Chris Evert knows a thing or two about tennis rivalries and has noticed something about Serena Williams’ career: the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion hasn’t had many rivalries.
Evert knows that his series of games over the years against Martina Navratilova – including five finals at Wimbledon, which is scheduled to take place at the moment but has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic – has provided convincing contrasts in the style of game and history.
“We were like day and night. She came from a communist country. I come from the “land of freedom”. She was brave. I came from this Catholic family and I was afraid. Everything was different with us. We really brought the fan groups out for the ride, ”said Evert in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. “People loved and hated me or they loved and hated me. People took it personally when we played. “
With Williams, on the other hand, the player she has faced most often is her older sister, Venus – 30 games so far, 50 less than Evert against Navratilova. So, said Evert, perhaps their all-family games don’t generate as much “cheering for one side or the other” emotion as other tennis rivals tend to do.
Other opponents who could have offered this element – Maria Sharapova, for example, or Justine Henin or Sloane Stephens – do not have a convincing volume of work or victories against Serena. Stephens is 1-5 against Williams; Sharapova went 2-20; Henin only dragged 6-8 but that included only one Grand Slam final.
“Maybe that shows,” said Evert, “that Serena is just too good for everyone.”
Some great female tennis rivalries in the open era, which began in 1968:
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA VS. CHRIS EVERT
Meetings: 80 (Navratilova, 43-37); Grand Slam Finals: 14 (Navratilova, 10-4)
Highlights: Navratilova’s first singles title in the Grand Slam of Navratilova – she and Evert both ended up with 18 – came via a 7-5 victory in the third set at Wimbledon in 1978; Evert’s 7-5 third set victory in the 1985 French Open final is widely regarded as one of the best games in tennis history.
Source: AP News