Chris Evert doesn’t have the most Grand Slam triumphs in tennis history. With 18 Grand Slam titles to her name, she is behind four female players (Margaret Court, Serena Williams, Steffi Graf and Helen Wills Moody) and two male players (Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal).
List of Grand Slams women's singles champions
|Rank||Player||Total||Australian Open||French Open||Wimbledon||US Open|
|4||Helen Wills Moody||19||0||4||8||7|
However, during her heydays, there was no player who was quite as odds on to win as Chris Evert, especially in Grand Slams.
Evert made her mark in 1971 at the US Open when she marched to the semi-finals. She lost to the great Billie Jean King in straight sets but she was to be a force in the tournament in the years to come.
In her 18-year career, Evert never lost in the first two rounds of a Grand Slam. From 1974 to 1986, Evert at least won one Grand Slam title every year, while she managed two triumphs each in five of those years.
In the Open era, Evert has most number of French Open titles (7) by a female player and the most number of US Open titles (6) along with Serena Williams.
The telling difference between Chris Evert and other tennis greats was her tremendous consistency. Despite not leading the charts for most Grand Slam wins, she was always up there competing for the trophy throughout her career.
The American reached the semi-finals or better in 52 out of the 56 Grand Slams she played in her career. Between 1971 and 1983, Evert reached the semi-finals or better of 32 straight Grand Slams she entered.
Most appearances in Grand Slam finals
|Player||Number of Grand Slam final appearances||Record|
Her career win percentage, a staggering 89.97% is the highest for any player in the Open era. At Roland Garros, her win percentage of 94.55 is a WTA record.
Unlike a lot of players, Evert also won Grand Slams across the board. She has two Australian Open crowns to her name along with three triumphs at Wimbledon.
During her career, Evert only dropped out of the top three rankings in her final year as a player. She occupied the World No 1 position for five straight years from 1974-1978.
In 1979 when she dropped to number 2, she stormed straight back to top the charts again for next two years.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘You’re going to win.’ By changing my strategy mentally and physically, I finally beat her. That was a real breakthrough for me. I proved that you don’t have to be the strongest, but I made it happen,” Evert told Vanity Fair.
“That’s my message to young girls. If they set their goals, if they work hard, anyone can be a champion,” she added.
Pause, Rewind, Play
Relive the most iconic moments in sports history
A career much more than numbers
It was her approach that truly defined her and served as an inspiration to many others.
“Playing a tennis match is very much like life. I think if you’re down in a tennis match you can still change the course of your life. It teaches you a lot about hanging in there and not giving up. And it teaches you a lot about belief in yourself,” she said.
“In tennis, as an individual sport, you’re out there by yourself. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be fearful. In life and in your game,” she added.
Evert had breathtaking groundstrokes bit those were often overshadowed by her focus on court and her consistency in performance, qualities that few in the game can match up to.
Off the court, Evert was quite the celebrity, loved by the masses as endorsements followed as soon as she became the best tennis women’s player in the world in the 1970s. But as it has done to a few other sportspersons, stardom rarely seem to derail her endeavours on court.
Evert continued with the same zest and victories never really stopped coming.
The American’s achievements were slightly overshadowed by the emergence of Martina Navratilova who took over the mantle of the world’s best tennis player from Evert.
Many more players starred on tennis courts and racked up one title after the other, but nobody managed it with a consistency quite like Chris Evert.
A player who changed women’s tennis on and off the court, Evert’s legacy is tennis remains untouched even years after her retirement.