Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert
It was the titanic battle between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert that effectively got the WTA on the road and even the great Billie Jean King herself, one of the founders of the organising body of women’s tennis, has suggested that without Martina and Chris, women’s tennis may never have reached the popularity and support it so enjoys today.
‘The Rivalry of the Century’
Termed ‘the Rivalry of the Century’ the battle for ascendancy in women’s tennis lasted seven long years and although there were moments of plain hostility from Navratilova in particular, the two stellar performers ended their long and fruitful careers as friends.
What is remarkable is that the two women met on 80 occasions, a head-to-head record that may never be matched, and 60 of these duels were finals, of which Navratilova won 43. They met an unprecedented 14 times in grand slam finals and again Navratilova dominated by winning 10 including all five Wimbledon match-ups on grass, clearly a surface that suited the strong, serve and volley ‘swirling dervish’.
Navratilova Not Keen on Clay
What is important to remember though, is that Navratilova only beat Chrissie Evert on clay three times in 20 years. Evert can be considered one of the most successful practitioners of clay but as soon as Navratilova was conscious of the fact, she chose to opt out of both the European and American clay court season year after year so that her overall statistics would not be affected!
Another factor that elevated the rivalry to an almost celebrity status was the contrasting personalities of the two main performers. Evert was the golden girl of America, she was feminine and attractive and on court was the picture of consistency and patience – she wasn’t named the Ice Maiden for nothing! Navratilova on the other hand was aggressive, bullish and strong and hailed from behind the dreaded Iron Curtain. She was also emotional and volatile, a complete contrast to the dainty Evert across the net.
Grand Slam Head-to-Head Record
- 1975 French Open – Chris Evert
- 1978 Wimbledon – Martina Navratilova
- 1979 Wimbledon – Martina Navratilova
- 1981 Australian Open – Martina Navratilova
- 1982 Australian Open – Chris Evert
- 1982 Wimbledon – Martina Navratilova
- 1983 US Open – Martina Navratilova
- 1984 French Open – Martina Navratilova
- 1984 Wimbledon – Martina Navratilova
- 1984 US Open – Martina Navratilova
- 1985 Australian Open – Martina Navratilova
- 1985 French Open – Chris Evert
- 1985 Wimbledon – Martina Navratilova
- 1986 French Open – Chris Evert