1980sHighlightsL E StoriesLegendsTennis

L E’s Stories – “Chrissy Vs Martina – A Rivalry Of The Highest Order Wrapped With Lifetime Friendship” – The Story Of Chris Evert And Martina Navratilova “

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are retired American and American/Czechoslovak professional tennis players who engaged in an iconic rivalry for dominance in women’s tennis in the 1970’s and 1980’s….which is considered to be one of the greatest rivalries in women’s tennis history and sports in general.  In the 12 years from the introduction of the WTA rankings in November 1975 until August 1987….that is when either Evert or Navratilova held the top spot in all but 23 weeks….while switching multiple times between 1978 and 1985.  In the first 615 weeks of the WTA rankings, they collectively held the # 1 ranking for 592 weeks….with Navratilova at 332 weeks….and Evert at 260 weeks. In total, from 1973 to 1988 they played 80 matches….which included 60 tournament finals.  Starting at the 1981 Australian Open and all the way through the 1985 Wimbledon….that is when they won a record 15 consecutive grand slam singles titles….and from the 1982 Australian Open to the 1987 US Open, they won 21 of those 24 grand slam singles titles….and at least one of them appeared in each of those 24 consecutive grand slam finals…..as the only other two players to win titles during that stretch were Hana Mandlikova at the 1985 US Open and 1987 Australian Open…..and Steffi Graf at the 1987 French Open.              

Tennis – 1970’s & 1980’s – Tennis Channel Strokes Of Genius Special – Chris Evert Vs Martina Navratilova

                                                                                                                                                                              They played 80 matches throughout their rivalry….with Navratilova leading the head to head battles by   43 – 37…..while Navratilova led 36–24 in all finals…..as the two played against each other most on the faster court surfaces (grass and indoors) where Navratilova’s offensive serve-and-volley style of play gave her the upper hand over Evert’s counter-attacking baseline approach….whereas Evert enjoyed her greatest success against Navratilova on hard courts and especially on clay courts.  Navratilova led Evert 10 – 5 on grass….and Evert led Navratilova 11 – 3 on clay courts….while Navratilova led 9 – 7 on outdoor hard courts…..wherein indoors, Navratilova won the majority of their matches, leading 21 – 14.  Evert led their head-to-head in three-set match wins with 15 – 14….but Navratilova led 29 – 22 in straight sets wins. Navratilova was most dominant in encounters in Grand Slams….while leading 14 – 8 overall and 10 – 4 in finals…..as Martina had the upper hand in their head-to-head over 9 seasons (1979, 1981 – 88)….whereas Evert led over the first 6 years of their rivalry from 1973 – 1978.

 

Tennis – 1978 – Wimbledon Women’s Finals Highlights – Chris Evert Vs. Martina Navratilova

As half of one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time, Chris Evert is probably the “half less appreciated ” today…..when her battles with Martina Navratilova grew to legendary status as they met so often in the final of majors.  The fact that Navratilova’s career extended years beyond Evert’s is perhaps part of the reason the Czech-American is better known today.

                                                                                 

Tennis – 1978 To 1988 – Special – Martina Navratilova vs Chris Evert: Two Greatest Players & Rivals in Tennis History

 

Evert was a powerful baseline player. Navratilova had the ultimate serve-and-volley game. They battled during an era when these two playing styles clashed on tennis courts around the world.  But there was something else different between these two champions. Their on-court demeanor and individual personalities were as opposite as night and day.  

The one thing they did share in common was an ultimate drive and a fervent determination to be the # 1 tennis player in the world.                                                      

Tennis – 1982 Australian Open Women’s Finals Highlights – Chris Evert Vs Martina Navratilova

 

What distinguished Navratilova throughout her career was a refusal to acknowledge boundaries that attempted to confine her. She rose up time and again to set aside taboos and prejudices in addition to a myriad of long-standing tennis records.  Navratilova became a one-woman wrecking crew. She drove herself to excel on every surface and in the process dominated the game for years.  She managed to capture 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 Grand Slam doubles titles. Add to that 10 mixed doubles titles and you have a full complement of tennis achievement equaled by no one. This is just the first layer of records Navratilova shattered during her long and illustrious career.                                                                    

Tennis – 1984 – U S Open Women’s Finals Highlights – Chris Evert Vs Martina Navratilova

 

Life in the early days was not easy for the young Czech…..who asked the United States government for political asylum in 1975, when she was 18….as she became an American citizen in 1981….then in 2008, she reestablished her Czech citizenship.  When Navratilova began playing tennis professionally in 1975, she was stocky in contrast to her current svelte physique…..however, there was no denying her immense talent. In 1975….when she was a finalist at the Australian and French Open….where she lost to Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Evert, respectively.  It wasn’t until 1978 that she won her first Grand Slam title….as she defeated Evert at Wimbledon….and took over the # 1 ranking….and from that point on, there was no stopping Navratilova as she won title after title.                                                                                                            

Tennis – 2015 – BNP Baripas WTA Open – Special Interview – The Ice Maiden Chris Evert & Martina Navratilova

 

At 16, Evert made her Slam debut at the 1971 U.S. Open….where she mowed down the competition on the way to the semifinals…..where she met and was defeated by Billie Jean King, 6-3, 6-2…..which was not too shabby for a teenager taking her first tentative step into the limelight.  Back then, there were virtually no teenagers playing professional tennis, unlike today.  In 1973 Evert improved, finishing runner-up at both the French Open and Wimbledon. In 1974, she won both of those events.

  For the next five years, Evert dominated the women’s game. In 1975 she won the French Open again and captured the U.S. Open, a title she would win for the next four consecutive years. In 1976, she took back the Wimbledon crown.  As Evert reigned supreme on the tennis courts, she was being called “The Ice Maiden” of tennis.                                 

Tennis – 1985 – French Open Women’s Final – 3rd Set – Martina Navratilova Vs Chris Evert

 

In the late 1970’s, a new rival was pushing her way onto the tennis scene…..a Czech named Martina Navratilova…..who was a young lady from Czechoslovakia that made her way rapidly to the top of the women’s game….where she inevitably met Evert.  At first, Evert dominated their matches….as Navratilova did not like losing….cuz It got under her skin and motivated her…..which pushed her to lose weight, get in shape, hire a coach and go after the American.  Evert was smart, and her play resembled her intelligence. She possessed a powerful two-handed backhand, one the best in the game. If you ventured to the net, Evert had the ability to pass you on either side.  With excellent speed and footwork, she used her entire arsenal to defeat Navratilova early in their rivalry. Eventually, Navratilova became the dictator with her fast-paced serve-and-volley style of play, paralleling the rise of John McEnroe, who overcame Bjorn Borg’s dominance on the men’s side.                                                                                                                         

Tennis – 1982 – Wimbledon Women’s Finals – 2nd Set – Chris Evert Vs Martina Navratilova

Consider this: Borg and McEnroe played each other 14 times in their great rivalry.  Evert and Navratilova played each other 80 times from 1973 to 1988.
…and as their matches grew tighter, Evert became more focused, consistent, patient, and determined…..while Navratilova grew more agitated and volatile….while often arguing with the chair umpire or quipping and joking with the crowd.

  The rivalry between Evert and Navratilova became the central spoke of women’s tennis in the 1980’s….as these rivals bore the brunt of building the women’s game…..for while they each had their fans and detractors….the fact is that overall, their rivalry was positive in building a fanbase for their respected sport.                                                                       

Tennis – 1979 – Eastbourne Tournament Women’s Finals Highlights – Chris Evert Lloyd Vs Martina Navratilova

 

Like Borg, Evert’s game was best suited for clay, where she dominated. From 1973, Evert won 125 consecutive matches on clay, losing only seven sets. Her record stands today as the best among men and women alike.  In all, she won seven French Open titles. In the process, Evert had to defeat Navratilova three times in three-set matches at French Open finals.  While Evert composed herself like Borg….that is when Navratilova became the McEnroe of the women’s game….while evolving her serve-and-volley style to an art form that few, if any, could disrupt or mimic.  As she honed her skills, Navratilova reined in her excesses on the court and became stronger mentally.  Over the course of their rivalry, Evert faced Navratilova in 14 Grand Slam finals, losing 10. Evert played best on clay and on hardcourts. Navratilova’s best surfaces were grass and indoor carpet.  Overall, Navratilova holds a 43-37 edge in their head-to-head meetings.                                                                                                                               

Tennis – 1988 – Wimbledon Women’s Finals Highlights -Martina Navratilova Vs. Chris Evert

 

Evert holds the record at the U.S. Open for the most wins in singles competition, with 101. She won at least one major each year for 13 consecutive years between 1974 and 1986, highlighting her mastery of consistency and focus.  Her legacy is firm, rooted in the core of her belief in herself and her game. 

Evert’s domination, with her pure strokes, pinpoint placement, and stern countenance became the perfect foil for the colorful and often irascible Navratilova.                                                                                                                   

Tennis – 1981 – Australian Open Women’s Final Highlights – Martina Navratilova Vs Chris Evert

 

Navratilova’s favorite surface was grass, where her supremacy was unmatched. She reached the singles final at Wimbledon 12 times, winning the title nine times—a modern record.  Navratilova remains one of three women to have achieved a career Slam in each discipline—singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.  Together Navratilova and Evert became the popular staple on the women’s tour, building for future rivalries and leading the way for today’s game.                                                                                                          

Tennis – 1986 – French Open Women’s Finals – Chris Evert vs Martina Navratilova

 

We love intense rivalries here at ImaSportsphile….Texas vs Oklahoma….Ali vs Frazier…..Magic vs Bird…. Yankees vs Red Sox…..and Evert vs Navratilova ranks right at the top within the to ten rivalries of all time….as evidenced by the videos posted wherewith…..which provides sufficient support for this story told here today…..as we are “tickled pink” to have the Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.                                 

Tennis – 2018 – WTA Finals In Singapore – With Clare Balding Interviewing Chris Evert & Martina Navratilova While Remembering Their Rivalry

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