Born in Florida in 1954, Chris Evert was drilled in the fundamentals of tennis at a young age by her father. She won the first of a record seven French Open titles in 1974 and took over the world's No. 1 ranking in 1975. Evert retired in 1989 with 18 Grand Slam singles titles and a record 90 percent career winning percentage. Elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995, she later became a TV analyst.
Christine Marie Evert was born on December 21, 1954, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to parents Jimmy and Colette Evert. A former competitive tennis player who became the head pro at Fort Lauderdale's Holiday Park facility, Jimmy taught the sport to all five of his children. Beginning at age 5, Chris Evert was drilled in the fundamentals of tennis on Holiday Park's clay courts, where she developed her famed two-handed backhand.
The hours of practice paid off: Evert became the No. 1–ranked junior player in her age group as an eighth grader and in 1970 won the girls' 16-and-under national championship.
Evert served notice that an extraordinary career was in the making when, as a 15-year-old, she defeated reigning U.S. Open champion Margaret Court at a tournament in North Carolina. Her talent was revealed to the rest of the tennis world at the 1971 U.S. Open, when she staged several impressive comebacks in the early rounds before falling to eventual champion Billie Jean King in the semifinals.
That was the starting point of a remarkable run for Evert, who advanced to at least the semifinals of her first 34 Grand Slam tournaments. She reeled off a then-record 55 consecutive wins in 1974, capturing the French Open and Wimbledon championships along the way. The following year she added a second French title and a U.S. Open triumph en route to the No. 1 ranking, a spot she held for most of the remainder of the 1970s.
Eschewing the net game that was common at the time, Evert wore down opponents with her steady baseline groundstrokes. Pretty, even-keeled and feminine, she rose to fame as "America's Sweetheart," although her stoic nature later garnered her less flattering nicknames, such as the "Ice Maiden."
Evert won her first Australian Open title in 1982 to complete the career Grand Slam, but by that time her dominance on the women's tour was being threatened by Czech star Martina Navratilova. The two engaged in many memorable battles, most notably in the 1984 U.S. Open final won by Navratilova. But Evert still found ways to claim the upper hand, outlasting her friend and greatest rival to win the French Open in 1985 and 1986.
Evert retired following her loss to Zina Garrison in the quarterfinals of the 1989 U.S. Open. She finished her career with 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including a record seven at the French Open, as well as three doubles championships. The owner of a record 90 percent career winning percentage in singles play, she was unanimously elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.
Romantically involved with fellow tennis champion Jimmy Connors until they broke off their engagement in 1974, Evert was married to British player John Lloyd from 1979 to 1987. Her second marriage, to American Olympic skier Andy Mill, produced three children. Following their divorce in 2006, Evert married Australian golfer Greg Norman in 2008, though the union lasted less than two years.
The retired tennis great remains involved in the sport via the tennis academy she founded with her family in 1996. A resident of Boca Raton, Florida, she also serves as publisher of Tennis magazine and as an analyst for ESPN.
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